The U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday unveiled a policy for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles. Automakers will be asked to assess the vehicle system design, development, testing and deployment work before a vehicle or system can be offered for sale or put into service on public roads. Automakers are to provide documentation and information covering 15 specific topics. Here’s how automakers, executives and others are reacting.
“Audi applauds the Department of Transportation’s pledge to combine an unwavering focus on safety with flexibility as it considers this important leap forward. The goal of regulators and of innovators at this stage should be to give the public a clear and transparent understanding of what these vehicles can -- and cannot do -- so that the promise of dramatically enhanced road travel is realized. This will be a crucial journey that can only be accomplished by working together to avoid a patchwork of policies that could stymie technological development expected to someday save tens of thousands of lives per year.”
“Regulation can go too far. Government sometimes gets it wrong when it comes to rapidly changing technologies. That’s why this new policy is flexible and designed to evolve with new advances.
“There are always those who argue that government should stay out of free enterprise entirely, but I think most Americans would agree we still need rules to keep our air and water clean, and our food and medicine safe. That’s the general principle here. What’s more, the quickest way to slam the brakes on innovation is for the public to lose confidence in the safety of new technologies.
“Both government and industry have a responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen. And make no mistake: If a self-driving car isn’t safe, we have the authority to pull it off the road. We won’t hesitate to protect the American public’s safety.”
-- President Barack Obama, in an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“We are pleased that DOT is planning to address these issues and seeking public comment for this new system of transportation but it must not shy away from assuring public safety with minimum federal vehicle safety standards. It should not rely instead on mere guidance, including for the initial elements of automatic vehicle operation such as Automatic Emergency Brakes (AEB) that currently is only guided with a useless industry voluntary standard (it was the key element that failed in the Tesla fatal crashes.)”
-- Joan Claybrook, former administrator of NHTSA
"Guidance is the right action to take since the technology is developing quickly and collaboration between automakers and NHTSA is critical to avoid policies that become outdated and inadvertently limit progress in reducing the number of crashes and saving lives. A policy that evolves is smart given the pace of technology.”
-- Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
“Global Automakers welcomes the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) leadership with the release of its automated vehicle guidance and model policy. A consistent national approach for this burgeoning technology is critically important as automated vehicles will advance vehicle safety, mobility and sustainability.”
-- John Bozzella, Global Automakers president and CEO
“The federal guidance also aligns to definitions from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) describing the levels of automation, a shift from NHTSA’s 2013 policy which was a competing standard in some ways. This creates a clearer and in some ways simpler framework for an ongoing conversation between industry stakeholders, advocates, and state and local governments that can help direct ongoing regulatory efforts as the industry continues to progress. This action is therefore a positive step in enabling progress in the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles.”
-- Jeremy Carlson, IHS Markit principal automotive analyst