NHTSA greenlights self-driving cars without manual controls

US regulator rules that autonomous vehicles need not have manual controls
The NHTSA rules that the autonomous vehicles car be ready for the future

As autonomous vehicles are becoming more advanced year by year, it is necessary for the other regulatory bodies to get along. While the US regulators, NHTSA are known for their cautionary agreeableness. Now it rules that autonomous vehicles need not have manual controls. These vehicles can be made and sold without any human controls like a steering wheel or driver’s seat. These terms are expected to disappear soon as vehicles are turning fully autonomous.

NHTSA greenlights self-driving cars without manual controls
Image credits- Engadget

This first-of-its-kind rule is the first step and it updates the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards with more clear guidelines for self-driving vehicles in preparation for the future. The NHTSA issued a press release announcing that quotes the U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated, “As the driver changes from a person to a machine in ADS-equipped vehicles, the need to keep the humans safe remains the same and must be integrated from the beginning.”

Prior to this new rule, there was no legal distinction, but according to the press release it states the following. ” The rule updates the standards to clarify what is required of manufacturers when applying the standards to ADS-equipped vehicles without traditional manual controls. The final rule clarifies that, despite their innovative designs, vehicles with ADS technology must continue to provide the same high levels of occupant protection as current passenger vehicles. This rule is part of NHTSA’s ongoing efforts to ensure the public’s safety as vehicle automation evolves.”

 Cruise and Zoox are both building AVs that are designed for sharing and do not have much in the way of traditional interiors. However, companies like WaymoMotional and Argo AI are still deploying automated vehicles on the street that can be operated by both an automated driving system and by a steering control, so those must have their own distinction, says NHTSA. Some automated vehicles, like Nuro’s, are being used to deliver goods, but not humans, so NHTSA’s standards have been tailored to exclude those vehicles, ruling that the original safety need doesn’t exist when there are no occupants to protect. 

NHTSA’s final rule also discusses changes to requirements by manufacturers resulting from revisions to the terminology, “such as the treatment of advanced airbags and advanced airbag suppression telltales in [automated driving system]-equipped vehicles, lockability requirements, and changes to…seat belt requirements for medium-sized buses and large school buses following the removal of the term ‘driver.’” Autonomous vehicle makers are already designing their new vehicles with passenger safety in mind. Zoox, for example, says it has built an entirely new style of airbag for its vehicle. 

Credits- Tech Crunch