US NHTSA says self-driving vehicles allowed only for testing

Article by Anita Panait, on June 4, 2013

The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believe that self-driving vehicles should remain in the experimental phase for now, even though they have the potential for bringing huge benefits in the long run. In a policy statement released Thursday, May 30, 2013, the NHTSA says it has considerable concerns over certain laws being drafted by US states, and does not recommend, at this time, that they allow operation of self-driving vehicles for purposes other than testing.

The states of Nevada, California and Florida have passed laws allowing carmakers like Toyota and Audi to test self-driving cars on public roads. Other US states may follow suit. The regulators’ stance suggests that self-driving cars will not be allowed to be used widely within the next few years. Some developers of the technology have suggested that fully self-driving cars could be available in the market after at least five years.

According to, NHTSA, it will conduct a research on self-driving vehicles to come up with tools to “establish standards” if they become commercially available.

NHTSA said the research will be completed within four years. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement that federal researchers are studying other automated features that don’t require drivers to give up control of their vehicles.

These features include automatic braking and fully self-driving cars. LaHood sid that their top priority is to ensure that cars with automated features and fully automated vehicles, as well as their occupants are safe. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

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