On January 14, 2021, Ariel Wolf was quoted in the Detroit News on the benefits of a new rule from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that will allow self-driving vehicle manufacturers to skip certain federal crash safety requirements in vehicles that aren't designed to carry people.
According to the article, the rule — months in the making — also allows manufacturers more leeway to design self-driving vehicles without controls meant for human drivers, such as steering wheels or pedals. It's expected to bring major cost savings to automakers. The NHTSA estimated the rule would save automakers and consumers $5.8 billion in 2050.
The rule is likely the first of many aimed at speeding the deployment of self-driving vehicles. The agency noted, for example, that it is not yet changing any requirements related to warning signals, which the agency is still researching, vehicle-to-vehicle compatibility, which isn't addressed in existing standards for cars with drivers, or unconventional seating arrangements, which also require more research.
Wolf said that the NHTSA rule is a "very exciting" and "highly significant" development in safety rules for self-driving vehicles. "It took a lot of work on the part of NHTSA and we hope it's the first of several rulemakings that are forthcoming," he said.
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