The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has removed the requirement for manual control on fully autonomous vehicles to meet crash standards, according to a report. Automotive News.
In February, General Motors and its cruise autonomous driving unit were asked to build and deploy a self-propelled vehicle without steering wheels or brake pedals.
The current regulation state assumes “there will always be a driver’s seat, a steering wheel and auxiliary steering column, or just a front outboard passenger seating.” This will change with the new rules for vehicles equipped with the Automatic Driving System (ADS).
“For only ADS-powered vehicles, manually operated driving controls are logically unnecessary,” the company said.
First proposed in March 2020, the new rules emphasize that occupant protection in autonomous vehicles is equivalent to the protection available in man-powered vehicles. Airbags, seatbelts and other safety measures still need to protect everyone inside the self-driving vehicle.
“Since ADS-equipped vehicles vary from person to person and machine to machine, the need to keep people safe remains the same and must be assembled from the beginning,” said Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s deputy administrator. Automotive News‘Report.
The rules further state that children should not be allowed to occupy the seat that was originally intended for the driver. General safety measures are not designed to protect children in the driver’s seat. However, if a child has to occupy the driver’s seat, the traffic does not have to stop.
Automated vehicles are not prohibited from being deployed in accordance with existing NHTSA regulations unless they have manual control. The company said manufacturers still need to file a petition with the NHTSA to sell their automated vehicles.