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DOT Announces it Won’t Regulate Autonomous Cars (for Now)

There are no plans as of yet to regulate autonomous cars at the federal level, according to Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Speaking to reporters after a panel discussion at the CES technology trade show in Las Vegas, emphasized that at this point it is most important for the government to evaluate technologies more rapidly than it has been, and to give guidance to legislators at the state level.

Foxx said, “Our goal as an agency is to step up the speed with which we can make those evaluations. We don’t want to be in a situation where technology is presented to us and it takes four years for us to evaluate it. We have to move faster.”

He did, however, leave the door open for possible future regulation at the federal level, saying it’s “not completely out of the question” at some point in the future.

There are voices in the automotive industry, however, who would like to see more cohesive regulations regarding driverless cars.

Audi executives, in a roundtable at CES, noted the difficulty of testing new technology because each state has different regulations. For example, New York is the only state that requires a driver’s hand to be on the wheel at all times, so Audi could not test there.

Google has expressed dissatisfaction with a measure implemented in December 2015 by the California Department of Motor Vehicles which states that a licensed driver must be in the front seat of an autonomous car at all times.

Google said in a statement, “Safety is our highest priority and primary motivator as we do this. We’re gravely disappointed that California is already writing a ceiling on the potential for fully self-driving cars to help all of us who live here.”

Read more about DOT chief Anthony Foxx’s statement here: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/2016/01/07/foxx-driverless-cars-ces/78436682/

Read more about Google’s response to California’s autonomous car testing rules here: http://recode.net/2015/12/16/google-gravely-disappointed-with-californias-new-rules-for-self-driving-cars/