The dream of self-driving cars is nearing its boom. While we've had smart vehicles for a while now, that iconic sci-fi yearning is closer than ever for the general public. However, before the tech can be established, self-driving features such as Tesla Autopilot must be properly regulated.
On Tuesday, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took the first step in regulating self-driving vehicles. To keep up with the rapidly advancing technology, the NHTSA issued a Standing General Order for vehicles equipped with “SAE Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) or SAE Levels 3-5 automated driving systems (ADS) to report crashes”.
Tesla Autopilot crashes need regulation
The NHTSA's new regulation will target systems such as Tesla Autopilot. Any service that relies on semi-autonomous or autonomous self-driving features will be included in the list of monitored vehicles. This includes steering assists, lane-keeping or Tesla's “Full self-driving" in new vehicle models.
Of course, this rule doesn't just apply to Tesla vehicles, although their advancement in the sector does make them a prime target. Any company that offers self-driving assists will also need to comply with the rule, such as Cruise.
Any vehicle crash that involved the use of a semi-autonomous assist will be tracked. If the vehicle is involved in a “hospital-treated injury, a fatality, a vehicle tow-away, an air bag deployment, or a vulnerable road user such as a pedestrian or bicyclist", it must be reported.
What will the NHTSA use this for?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will use the information from crash reports to further regulate road safety. The regulatory body explains that they will “help the agency identify potential safety issues and impacts resulting from the operation of advanced technologies on public roads and increase transparency."
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How large will the fines be?
Issues with self-driving assistants like Tesla Autopilot need to be reported. However, on the occasion that they are found to be unreported, the NHTSA will step in with a sizable fine.
For every day that a report goes unreported, the NHTSA will charge £ $22,992 per day. This fine will increase up to a maximum penalty of "more than $100 million". Finally, further refusal to report issues will result in a Justice Department referral.
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