The Department of Transportation has issued a new policy update for autonomous vehicles entitled “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0.” As a clear indication of where the DOT thinks things are headed, the FMCSA “will no longer assume that the CMV driver is always a human or that a human is necessarily present onboard a commercial vehicle during its operation.”
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao unveiled the new guidance (dubbed AV 3.0) during a briefing on Thursday. For the most part, the new guidance keeps with the DOT’s hands-off policy when it comes to regulating autonomous vehicles. The government seems satisfied with taking a back seat and letting the technology develop as it will without much interference or regulation.
In her speech, Chao highlighted the need for automated technologies to increase safety and save lives. She noted that human error is a factor in 94% of roadway accidents, but admitted that the majority of Americans are still leery of riding in self-driving vehicles.
“While these technologies hold promise, they’ve not yet won public acceptance,” Chao said. “Without public acceptance, the full potential of these technologies will never be realized.”
And though AV 3.0 make a hands-off approach clear, the guidance does leave a space for regulation to be put in place in the future, saying that “FMCSA retains its authority to take enforcement action if an automated system inhibits safe operation.”
As for automation replacing truckers, Chao admitted that she is “extremely concerned about the impact of automated technology on the workforce.” But she says that the departments of Labor, Commerce, and Health and Human Services will be researching the impact of automation on the workforce. That information is supposed to “help workers prepare for the future.”
You can read the whole AV 3.0 guidance here.