Ford, Google, Lyft, Uber and Volvo, have formed the “Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets” coalition to speed up the time to market for self-driving cars, reports Reuters. The coalition will “work with lawmakers, regulators and the public to realize the safety and societal benefits of self-driving vehicles.”
The five companies, which all are working on self-driving cars, said one of the first tasks is to “work with civic organizations, municipalities and businesses to bring the vision of self-driving vehicles to America’s roads and highways.” Those roads and highways, ironically, are perhaps the biggest roadblock for self-driving cars. A recent study found that 65 percent of US roads are in poor condition, forcing automakers to develop more sophisticated sensors and maps.
David Strickland, former top official of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), will be the counsel and spokesman for Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets. “The best path for this innovation is to have one clear set of federal standards and the coalition will work with policymakers to find the right solutions that will facilitate the deployment of self-driving vehicles,” Strickland said in the statement.
Ford said in a statement the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets coalition will “work together to advocate for policy solutions that will support the deployment of fully autonomous vehicles.”
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On Wednesday, NHTSA is holding the second of two public forums on its self-driving car guidelines that will feature comments from tech companies and automakers at Stanford University. NHTSA hopes to release its guidance for self-driving cars to states, policymakers and companies in July 2016.
In February 2016, NHTSA said the artificial intelligence in Google’s self-driving cars could be considered a legal driver under federal law. This interpretation, of course, opens the door to rewriting regulations to allow for self-driving cars without steering wheels, pedals, and other human-operated systems.
Google asked NHTSA in a November letter for interpretation of safety standards in cars it seeks to produce without traditional controls, such as a steering wheel or throttle and brake pedals.
Some states have allowed Google self-driving cars to be tested on public roads, but at the federal level only humans have been considered legal drivers. Not anymore. “We agree with Google its self-driving car will not have a ‘driver’ in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years,” said the NHTSA letter.