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October 31, 2014

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Self-Driving Car Approved By Federal Safety Officials For Testing Purposes Only

Self-Driving Car Approved By Federal Safety Officials For Testing Purposes Only

05/31/2013

As the movement for self-driving cars accelerates, federal safety officials are urging states to refrain from licensing such cars except for testing.

On Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a set of regulations, research plans and guidelines to states on how to proceed with testing for self-driving vehicles. “America is at a historic turning point for automotive travel,” the NHTSA's deputy administrator wrote in a statement.

The NHTSA recommend that special drivers' licenses be given to individuals who wish to operate autonomous vehicles, in addition to completing training on issues including how to take control of a vehicle if something goes wrong. It also issued guidelines for automakers seeking to test drive autonomous vehicles to report all information regarding incidents and crashes.

While currently there are no automated cars in wide use, a few vehicles with self-driving capabilities are being tested in California, Nevada and Florida— the only three states that permit testing.

One big safety benefit of the cars would be to take human error out of driving. Last year alone, about 340,000 people died on U.S. roads, over a 5 percent increase following six years of declines, reported Bloomberg. The use of vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology which allows vehicles to send radio data to one another, would anticipate impending maneuvers by other vehicles, and in cases where a crash would take place, prevent or even reduce in severity.

Most automated of the cars in use have been produced by Google. On the NHTSA's 0-4 scale of vehicle automation, the Google car rates at 3. The most advanced of systems is a level 4, in which the driver inputs a desired destination and isn’t expected to take control of the vehicle at all. This level of autonomous driving is not close to being available to the public.

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Read more: Self-Driving Cars, NHTSA, Google

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