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Self-Driving Vehicles Can Now Be Made Without Steering Wheels Under New NHTSA Rules

Self-Driving Vehicles Can Now Be Made Without Steering Wheels Under New NHTSA Rules

The outgoing Donald Trump administration issued new rules Thursday related to self-driving vehicles in the United States, which would allow such vehicles to be exempted from certain crash standards applicable to traditional vehicles.

What Happened: The new rules, which will cut costs, only apply to vehicles that carry goods, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The rules reportedly also pave the way for manufacturers of passenger-carrying autonomous vehicles to build autos without certain controls such as steering wheels.
See Also: GM, Cruise To Seek NHTSA Approval For Self-Driving Cars With No Steering Wheels, Pedals

“We do not want regulations enacted long before the development of automated technologies to present an unintended and unnecessary barrier to innovation and improved vehicle safety,” said James Owens, deputy NHTSA administrator, in a statement.

A grouping called the Self-Driving Coalition — which includes the likes of Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) self-driving unit Waymo, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), Uber Inc (NYSE: UBER) —  hailed the rule change saying it addresses barriers to innovation “while preserving the important safety protections afforded to vehicle occupants by NHTSA’s current standards,” Reuters reported.

Why It Matters: NHTSA estimates peg the savings to automated vehicle manufacturers in the region of $5.8 billion in the year 2050 or at $995 per vehicle, based on an estimated production number of 5.8 million units.

The move was criticized by Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety who accused NHTSA of “kowtowing to the auto industry’s priority of removing so-called regulatory barriers in order to facilitate the introduction of autonomous vehicles.”

Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk said last month that full self-driving would be ready in 2021, which means both the driver and a steering wheel would be optional.

Related Links: Tesla Asked To Recall 158,000 Model S, X Units By US Over Touchscreen Failures


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