Trump administration continues hands-off approach to self-driving cars

The Trump administration on Tuesday published the latest guidelines for self-driving cars, the first update since taking over from the Obama administration. The 36-page report, called Version 2.0 by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, continues the same hands-off approach to the emerging industry, with guidance being “entirely voluntary” with “no enforcement mechanism.”

Most of the questions raised in the guidance mimic what was found in the Obama report last year. These include questions on validation, cybersecurity, road tests, and hardware failures.

See Also: Who is responsible for autonomous car regulation?

The rather light report comes as a bill, called the SELF DRIVE Act, makes its way through the Senate. The House of Representatives has already passed the bill, which would transfer regulatory power to Congress and let thousands more self-driving cars test on public roads.

The report does make mention of state regulations, warning the states against setting up too many regulations. Most of the states that have a large self-driving presence have already partly legalized road tests or give major auto and tech companies a pass to test on roads.

A coalition of tech and auto companies, including Waymo, Uber, Ford, Volvo, and Lyft, praised the announcement in a statement:

“The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets is pleased to see the Trump Administration continuing the work to bring fully self-driving vehicles to U.S. roads. With more than 35,000 motor vehicle deaths in 2015, the potential safety benefits of fully self-driving technology are too important to delay.”

The report also said companies that integrate self-driving cars would receive preferential treatment in future infrastructure programs. President Trump has said there will be a $1 trillion infrastructure plan for the U.S., involving roads and bridges, but it has yet to be published.

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