In a stunning announcement, the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) has proclaimed that the software and hardware system within self driving cars, such as Google’s Self driving cars, can be considered a “driver.”
This announcement came out of a response letter NHTSA to a question from Chris Urmson, Google’s Director of the self driving car initiative, on how their cars can meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS)
This standard is the guideline in which all automotive manufacturers, that intends on selling in the United States, must meet. It dictates a lot that goes into the design of cars such as the requirement for warnings such as Tire Pressure Warning Systems (TPMS), steering wheel designs, and other features that interface with a human driver, like mirrors and headlight positioning.
However, a lot of these guidelines are difficult to apply, or would require a special interpretation to fully autonomous cars or cars that do not require a driver, such as Google’s Self Driving Cars (SDV).
So NHTSA has plainly set some new waivers and guidelines that will allow Google, and other self driving car initiatives, to treat the computer as a driver. This clears the way for Google to design the vehicle’s components to directly interface with the self driving system, and perform A LOT more testing without “archaic” driver requirements.
You can read NHTSA’s lengthy response to Google in here.
This latest move by the Feds is in line with the Obama administration’s move to bolster self driving car technology, when it announced earlier this year that it proposes $4 billion across the next 10 years to help fund the testing of self-driving cars.
Let’s all say it… “Thanks, Obama”