Feds Set Self-Driving Vehicle Summit to Gather Data

Photo of autonomous LEAF at the 2014 Geneva auto show courtesy of Nissan.
Photo of autonomous LEAF at the 2014 Geneva auto show courtesy of Nissan.

The U.S. Transportation Department will hold a summit on March 1 to identify priority federal and non-federal activities that can accelerate the safe roll-out of autonomous vehicles.

The meeting will take place at the department's headquarters in Washington, D.C., with anticipated attendance by key stakeholders including auto manufacturers, technology companies, road safety advocates and policymakers. It will also be open to the public.

The conference was prompted in part by recent reports that the Trump administration plans to unveil revised self-driving car guidelines this summer as the government sets out to rewrite regulations that pose barriers to robot vehicles.

While the U.S. National Highway Traffic-Safety Administration (NHTSA) has gone on record that it wants to identify any "unnecessary regulatory barriers" to self-driving cars, the group will use the forum to seek comments on what types of research to conduct before determining whether to eliminate or re-write regulations.

The agenda for the summit will include "several stakeholder breakout sessions on various topics related to automation," according to NHTSA.

In September, landmark legislation to speed the introduction of self-driving cars unanimously passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, but stalled in the Senate. Automakers must meet nearly 75 auto safety standards, many of which were written with the assumption that a licensed driver will be in control of the vehicles. While several automakers lobbied for the legislation, auto safety groups called for further safeguards.

Last September, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the first set of revisions to the guidelines by the Obama administration.

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