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US Officials to Control Software for Self-Driving Cars Under New Regulations

© DelphiA screen inside Delphi's self-driving car showing obstacles around the car
A screen inside Delphi's self-driving car showing obstacles around the car - Sputnik International
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that the US federal government was taking the lead in policing software that would substitute for human drivers.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — New rules of the road for self-driving cars are set to be released on Tuesday, with the US federal government taking the lead in policing software that will substitute for human drivers, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told reporters in a White House conference call.

"When software is operating the vehicle, that is an area that we intend to regulate," Foxx said on Monday.

Foxx explained that states will continue to issue rules for humans, such as traffic laws, speed limits and insurance requirements.

Companies such as Google and Apple are in a race to develop automated vehicles, and the ride sharing company Uber plans to test a fleet of driverless cars in the US city of Detroit in cooperation with major US auto manufacturers.

By some estimates, there could be as many as 10 million driverless cars on US roads within the next five years.

A visitor presses the new Apple's CarPlay touch-screen commands inside the Volvo Estate concept car displayed at the Swedish carmaker during the press day of the Geneva Motor Show in Geneva, on March 4, 2014. - Sputnik International
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US National Economic Council Director Jeff Zients hailed the development as providing additional mobility for the elderly and disabled while reducing the 35,000 fatalities from auto accidents each year — 94 percent of which are due to human error.

Zients was particularly enthusiastic about the benefits for commuters, who spend hundreds of hours each year sitting in traffic.

"We’re envisioning a future where you can take your hands off the wheel and the wheel out of the car, and where your commute becomes productive or restful rather than frustrating and exhausting," Zients said in Monday’s briefing.

Regulations to be issued on Tuesday include 15 federal safety standards required to certify driverless cars and a model policy for individual states that is intended to avoid a patchwork of conflicting rules, Foxx stated.

The new policy will also explain how existing regulations will be applied to self-driving cars, such as federal recalls to fix defects, according to Foxx.

In addition, the policy proposes 12 new regulatory standards, including a requirement that driverless cars communicate with each other, he added.

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