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    U.S. presses for safer autonomous vehicle technology


    Autonomous vehicles have been involved in some serious road accidents recently, most newsworthy: two widely reported driver deaths earlier this year in technology-packed, auto-piloted Teslas.

    No technology is perfect, but, inexorably, improvements and refinements will follow, and the benefits of self-driving vehicles, especially when it come to improved safety, will outweigh the risks – in theory.

    In the U.S., regulators see automated car technology as a win for auto safety, one with the potential to reduce overall automobile fatalities. Having endorsed autonomous vehicle technology, the Department of Transportation is now pushing hard for a new 15-point program of standards for the design and development of the car of the future.


    Self-Driving Cars Gain Powerful Ally: The Government

    Uber, the ride-hailing giant, began trials in Pittsburgh last week using driverless technology. The government’s new guidelines for autonomous driving will speed up the rollout of self-driving cars, experts said. Credit Angelo Merendino/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    The New York Times | Technology
    Self-Driving Cars Gain Powerful Ally: The Government

    By CECILIA KANGSEPT. 19, 2016

    WASHINGTON — Federal auto safety regulators on Monday made it official: They are betting the nation’s highways will be safer with more cars driven by machines and not people.

    In long-awaited guidelines for the booming industry of automated vehicles, the Obama administration promised strong safety oversight, but sent a clear signal to automakers that the door was wide open for driverless cars.

    “We envision in the future, you can take your hands off the wheel, and your commute becomes restful or productive instead of frustrating and exhausting,” said Jeffrey Zients, director of the National Economic Council, adding that highly automated vehicles “will save time, money and lives.”

    The statements were the most aggressive signal yet by federal regulators that they see automated car technology as a win for auto safety. Yet having officially endorsed the fast-evolving technology, regulators must now balance the commercial interests of companies including Tesla, Google and Uber with concerns over public safety, especially in light of recent crashes involving semi-autonomous cars.

    The policies unveiled on Monday were designed to walk that line. In a joint appearance, Mr. Zients and Anthony Foxx, secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, released the first guidelines, which outlined safety expectations and encouraged uniform rules for the nascent technology. The instructions signaled to motorists that automated vehicles would not be a Wild West where companies can try anything without oversight, but were also vague enough that automakers and technology companies would not fear over regulation.

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