New NHTSA guidelines on driverless vehicles say they should be used on road for testing only

  • 30-May-2013 12:41 EDT

Continental's autonomous driving research vehicle takes to the road in Nevada with a human at the ready. The Silver State is one of a few that already have enacted legislation expressly permitting operation of self-driving vehicles under certain conditions.

The technology is not yet sufficiently developed to allow self-driving vehicles to be operated on public roads for purposes other than controlled testing, NHTSA (U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) said May 30 in issuing guidelines and recommendations to that effect. Its proposals are not binding. The guidelines/recommendations are directed mainly to states to help them set up rules and conditions if they choose to allow for testing of autonomous vehicles on their roads. Several states already have approved such on-road testing. Among the more important recommendations is that states issue special licenses to individuals for the operation of driverless vehicles and that a licensed operator be in the driver's seat during the on-road testing to take over control if necessary. Vehicles should be equipped so they can alert the operator if there is a malfunction in autonomous systems (or other potential safety issue) and make it easy for him or her to take control. The guidelines can be viewed here.

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