A new policy announced today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is intended to steer driverless cars in the safest possible direction. The policy defines the different levels of vehicle automation and summarizes plans for research to ensure safety issues are examined. It also issued safety recommendations to states that have already authorized self-driving vehicles for test purposes.
NHTSA defines five levels of vehicle automation, including:
- No automation: The driver is in complete control of the primary vehicle controls.
- Function-specific automation: The vehicle performs one or more specific control functions — for example, electronic stability control, which has been mandatory on all light vehicles since model-year 2011.
- Limited self-driving automation: The driver is able to cede full control of all critical functions under certain conditions, but must resume control when prompted by the vehicle that those conditions are changing.
- Full self-driving automation: The vehicle performs all tasks for an entire trip.
NHTSA intends its forthcoming recommendations to help provide lawmakers with the tools to ensure safe implementation of automated vehicles on their states' roads. Nevada, California and Florida already have enacted legislation permitting autonomous cars to be operated on their respective roads for experimentation purposes.Related
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