Feds Take Over Regulation Of Self-Driving Cars

President Obama Pens Op-Ed In Post-Gazette

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Uber’s self-driving cars are on the streets of Pittsburgh, and a lot of people wonder, “Are they safe?”

The federal government now wants a hand in regulating the vehicles, and President Barack Obama even weighed in with an op-ed published Monday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The future arrived last week — when Uber’s self-driving cars began picking up folks in the city and taking them to their preset destinations. Their engineers say our roads will be the safer for it in the years ahead.

“About 1.3 million people a year die in car accidents. About 94 percent of those are human error related,” Raffi Krikorian with Uber Advanced Technology said. “We really strongly feel that self-driving technology can make a dent in that statistic.”

Now, the federal government wants to make sure. Tuesday, the Highway Traffic Safety Administration staked out oversight, introducing a litany of proposed regulations.

In an op-ed in the Post-Gazette, President Obama said the federal government supports the development of self-driving technology with needed safeguards. He wrote:

“Safer, more accessible driving. Less congested, less polluted roads. That’s what harnessing technology for good can look like. But we have to get it right. Americans deserve to know they’ll be safe today even as we develop and deploy the technologies of tomorrow.”


To that end, the feds are asking Uber and other companies to sign a 15-point safety checklist that will ensure safe design, development and testing of the vehicles before they hit the road. While the federal government will need to approve all developing technologies, the aim is to be flexible and not to stifle innovation.

“By laying the markers we’re laying, we’re simultaneously allowing innovation to happen and introducing and raising the level of safety on these vehicles,” Sec. Anthony Foxx of the U.S. Department of Transportation said.

In a statement, the industry says it welcomes federal oversight that would be standard across all 50 states, avoiding a patchwork of requirements at the state and local level. But like the cars themselves, the regulations governing them are a work in progress.


With Uber testing its first driverless cars in Pittsburgh, Gov. Tom Wolf says Pennsylvania has been ahead of the curve on this new technology, with a task force already in place here as well as proposed legislation that would allow for testing of the self-driving vehicles.

Gov. Wolf tells the KDKA Morning News, “As a state, [Pennsylvania] is not going to wait to see who has jurisdiction over this, we’re going to make sure we try to do what we can to make sure people are safe. We’ll work with the Feds, whatever they’re doing, but we’re not going to wait. We’ll make sure that, here in Pennsylvania, we are safe.”


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One Comment

  1. Due to efforts by so many companies to become the “go to” company for self driving cars the software will always have glitches. Imagine everyone driving along at 60 or 70 MPH and one of these “intelligent” cars decides it’s time for a reboot. I’ll call my lawyer and retirement, here I come!

    Until there are ONLY self driving cars on the roads, other drivers will be a larger hazard than just a deer suddenly jumping in front of the car. These cars rely on clearly marked roads and unambiguous situations to drive without a problem.

    Has anyone noticed the conditions of our roads? A sudden snowstorm or heavy rain will make seeing even a perfectly marked road become difficult. How about someone running a red light at 60 MPH? Can the software deal with that any better than a human? There are simply too many variables to put into the software for these cars to drive any faster than 25 MPH safely. That still wouldn’t account for extreme situations like that driver running a red light.

    They can keep their self driving cars. I like to control what my car is going to do next. For those who think self driving cars are a solution to traffic accidents, I think strict enforcement of laws against cell phone usage, texting, driving under the influence would be a far better solution. Make it too expensive to drive stupid. It’s one time where I think lawyers can be useful when traffic deaths are involved.

    How hard is it to simply to what you are supposed to do while driving?

  2. John Dole says:

    ” Less congested,” Wrong. Self driving cars has the potential of doubling the number of cars on the road. That, along with 4 second gap between cars, etc will make congestion much worse.

  3. Mike Stakel says:

    I was leaving the steeler game on sunday, stopped at the red light at the corner by the Clemente bridge. I could see the rotating radar on the uber vehicle 3 vehicles in front of myself and my 4 passengers. We were in the second lane heading north. When the light changed the Uber vehicle made a right turn onto the Clemente bridge from the second lane infront of the cars waiting in the turn lane. Apparently the Uber vehicle had too much to drink at the TAILGATE.

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