NHTSA Chief Stands Behind Autonomous Vehicles

mark rosekind NHTSA Chief

The top U.S. auto regulator is standing behind autonomous vehicles.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind says the government will not abandon efforts to speed the development of self-driving cars, following the first known deadly crash involving the technology. It involved a Tesla Model S where Autopilot was activated. The accident currently remains under investigation.

Rosekind says auto regulators ultimately believe autonomous tech will save lives by reducing human error. But he warns if we wait for the technology to be perfect, “we’ll be waiting a very, very long time.”

Rosekind’s comments came at this week’s 2016 Automated Vehicle Symposium in San Francisco. He told the crowd no one incident will derail the agency’s efforts to use advanced technology to make the roads safer.

“I can tell you that no one incident will derail the Department of Transportation and NHTSA from its mission to improve safety on the roads by pursuing new lifesaving technologies,” said Rosekind.

The NHTSA chief also says the government’s role isn’t to pick winners and losers of the technology, but to develop the framework that will speed its deployment. Regulators are currently working on industry guidelines when it comes to autonomous vehicles. They are expected later this summer.

“Let me be clear: Strong safety regulations absolutely will continue to be an important part of NHTSA’s safety mission, and there will, without question, be regulations on highly automated vehicles in the future,” Rosekind said. “But those expecting DOT and NHTSA to issue 16,000 pages of regulations in the coming weeks will be disappointed, or perhaps more likely, relieved.”

You can read all of Rosekind’s remarks on the NHTSA website here.

Photo Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin 
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