Public Comments Split on Federal Rules for Autonomous Vehicles

As the federal government finalizes its guidelines for autonomous vehicles, it is receiving conflicting public comments from automakers and other interested parties.

Automakers, technology companies, and the public have submitted diverging opinions on the long-awaited release of national standards. Key legislative issues include the testing, regulation, and whether to license operators of autonomous vehicles.

Questions remain on whether self-driving vehicles should require an operator with a driver’s license, or if the vehicles need steering wheels and brake pedals. Most comments cited safety as a top priority and commended NHTSA for its efforts. Several of the comments also raised issues over cybersecurity and how much data to share.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received more than 60 public comments and documents. The commentary phase has included two public sessions in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco in April. The public comment period finished at the end of May.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra said Tuesday that GM believes the steering wheel, brake and accelerator should remain in autonomous vehicles while self-driving technology and safety is proven.

“We believe through an evolution we’re able to put the technology into the vehicles,” Barra said. “And it is very important that we demonstrate safety. We think that having that capability when the steering wheel and the pedals are still in the vehicle is a very good way to demonstrate and prove the safety.”

Google continues to take the opposite perspective. The tech company wants to have cars without a steering wheel and pedals available to consumers.

SEE ALSO: Energy Security Council Makes Recommendations on Autonomous Vehicle Policies

Comments have been made by 13 automakers, suppliers, and tech companies; 17 auto- or tech-related associations; and dozens of U.S. citizens. Other automakers who have submitted written opinions include Ford, Tesla, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Volvo Group, and Daimler Trucks.

These conflicting issues are expected to be a central theme at the annual TU-Automotive tech-auto conference Wednesday and Thursday in Novi. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind is one of about 150 speakers and panelists scheduled to make addresses during the conference.

Rosekind is on a panel with officials from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and Michigan Secretary of State’s Office to discuss guidelines and regulations. These were two of the first states to allow for the testing of self-driving cars on their highways.

The Detroit News