August 9, 2018 12:45 PM, EDT

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Touts Department’s Approach to Autonomous Policy

Driver in autonomous car with hands off wheelGetty Images

An update of federal guidelines on autonomous technology that would encompass trucks, transit systems, infrastructure, cars and other modes of transportation will emphasize safety, the country’s top transportation officer said Aug. 8.

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Speaking at a conference hosted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, Secretary Elaine Chao noted the U.S. Department of Transportation’s upcoming automated vehicle regulations also would be performance-based and as nonprescriptive as possible.

“So we want to work with the states and localities to avoid a patchwork of confusing or conflicting rules that could inhibit innovation and make it more difficult for automated vehicles to cross state lines,” Chao said. “The department recognizes that autonomous vehicles will need to have the capability to operate side-by-side with, you know, like transitional, traditional vehicles in both urban and rural areas.”

During a policy summit at DOT headquarters in March, the secretary said the new policy, known as AV 3.0, could be released this summer.

On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, legislation advanced by the Senate Commerce Committee aimed at facilitating the development of self-driving vehicles has yet to be scheduled for floor debate. The House advanced similar legislation last year. Trucking policy and directives are absent in both versions.