As federal regulators are rewriting rules for autonomous cars, and around 90 organizations have offered up public comments about proposed regulation, according to CNBC. Many companies want regulations eased on self-driving vehicles without manual controls.
Alphabet's Waymo and General Motors are both asking regulators to quickly, but safely, change the rules. They want the laws to be updated so they can better test fully autonomous vehicles on public roads in America.
Also involved in the conversation are Lyft, Intel, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz, as well as some nonprofit organizations like the Center for Auto Safety. The public comment period is only open for a short time.
Tesla, which has been highly vocal about using self-driving technology, did not comment.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it will look at the comments and take them into consideration while federal regulators rework the rules.
The newest consideration would be to allow vehicles that don’t have controls like steering wheels and pedals to operate on U.S. highways and roads. Companies are currently required by law to have manual equipment, and must get special permission to use vehicles without it.
Both Lyft and GM are asking for a separate requirement that such vehicles match the “intent” of the standards of safety, regardless of the equipment.
“GM/Cruise supports NHTSA establishing new definitions that apply only to ADS-DVs [autonomous vehicles] without manual controls,” GM said. “It would allow NHTSA to clearly delineate, where necessary, the requirements that apply to ADS-DV versus those that apply to traditional vehicles.”
Lyft specifically asked for a “separate vehicle classification” that would “remove regulatory barriers and modify [federal motor vehicle safety standards] that reference a human driver and/or assume some manual control element within the test procedure.”
However, some organizations expressed safety concerns, including Consumer Reports: “In short: for NHTSA to save lives and prevent injuries, there are more important subjects the agency should be focusing on than ‘removing regulatory barriers,’ especially given the robust pace of industry innovation in many areas today,” Consumer Reports said.