Who's the Driver? Where's the Driver? Let's Google It!

Late last year, Google asked NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) for an official opinion on who is the driver in their future vehicle, and where is such entity sitting? In spite of NHTSA's attempt to always make performance oriented standards, the concept of a human driver with hands, feet, and eyes has found its way into numerous legal requirements for a vehicle.

Lots of press is going into headlines saying that NHTSA provided an interpretation that the electronic control system of the driverless vehicle, the Self-Driving System of the Self-Driving Vehicle, is the "driver" or "operator" of the vehicle. What the headlines and stories don't say is that there is still a lot of work to do to make a legal vehicle without a driver.

I actually read through the entire response from NHTSA. Google, or anyone else, still needs to prove it's safe and request exemptions from the rules. NHTSA still needs to put significant effort into revising the rules and coming up with ways to do compliance testing on a driverless vehicle. Google did a great job of using a word search on "operator" and "driver" to find all the references to such in the regulations. NHTSA did say the Self-Driving System can be considered the driver/operator in the design Google described. NHTSA did say that putting stickers on the left side of the vehicle B pillar would be okay. NHTSA did suggest that the left-front seating position might not be the best for location as defined in the regulations today. So, stay tuned. Anytime you want to know the status of autonomous vehicles, just Google it!

TAGS: News
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