January 10, 2018 4:15 PM, EST
US Regulators Eye Policy for Autonomous Trucks
Daimler AG

Federal regulators are taking the first step toward creating a policy to guide the development of autonomous transportation beyond cars to include trucks, buses and other ground-based modes.

The U.S. Transportation Department will soon publish four requests for public comment as part of a push to form a unified approach for automated transportation systems, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Jan. 10.

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The feedback generated “will help identify which departmental regulations need to be updated and changed to encourage innovation,” Chao said in a statement.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants comment on “unnecessary regulatory barriers” for self-driving vehicles and how their safety should be tested and certified. The Federal Transit Administration is looking for feedback on two fronts related to automated buses and the Federal Highway Administration will seek public input on how driverless transportation modes should be accommodated on U.S. highways.

The comments will be used to develop the third iteration of the department’s Federal Automated Vehicle Policy expected to be released later this year. The current version, released in September, relates only to autonomous automobiles, not buses, trains or other forms of surface transportation.

Chao announced the initiative Jan. 10 during a talk at CES, the annual technology show sponsored by the Consumer Technology Association in Las Vegas. Giving the public and industry a chance to make suggestions is part of an effort to prevent government from hampering innovation, she said.

“We went to reduce the hurdles, the barriers,” she said.

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With assistance by Alan Levin