Federal regulators want to know what the public thinks of self-driving cars

March 18, 2019

Safety officials are asking for the public's help to rewrite the rules for self-driving cars, which were written decades ago.

General Motors last year petitioned the NHTSA to allow self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EVs on the road that lacked steering wheels and pedals. The federal agency languished for more than a year without making a decision and now the automaker seeks approval for up to 2,500 driverless Bolt EVs to share the road with the public, Reuters reported last week. The public's responses could help set boundaries for self-driving cars in the U.S. and the comment period will be open for at least 60 days.

GM must show that the driverless cars are as safe as human-driven cars, and according to the report, NHTSA will for the first time directly compare the safety between a driverless and human-driven car.

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GM showed its self-driving car without a steering wheel or pedals in early 2018 and announced it had delivered a letter to the NHTSA to let a small number of the cars test on public roads. The fleet of self-driving cars would be speed-limited and likely drive only around the San Francisco area.

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The automaker also previously declared it would begin a self-driving car ride-sharing service at some point in 2019. The NHTSA delay hasn't changed plans to roll out such an operation, either, a GM spokesperson told Reuters.

GM, through its Cruise Automation self-driving car subsidiary, has become a leading force in the self-driving car industry. The firm's self-driving Bolt EVs continue to test in California and Arizona and prepare for GM's autonomous ride-sharing service. However, Google's Waymo division has already begun a ride-sharing service with its own self-driving cars. The service is available for selected and screened riders in an area outside of Phoenix.

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