The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has taken important steps to simplify the legal framework surrounding autonomous vehicles. The Trump administration published a verbose policy initiative that outlines the steps it will take to give car and technology companies more freedom to develop, test, and ultimately sell the technology to the public.
In an 80-page document, transportation secretary Elaine Chao recognized the pros and cons of self-driving vehicles. On one hand, they can lead to safer roads while making life more productive, more relaxing, or both for the millions of commuters across America. On the other hand, getting to that point requires incorporating new risks into the automotive landscape. Elaine Herzberg’s death illustrated one of the more extreme scenarios.
The DOT promises to adopt flexible policies that prioritize safety while remaining technology-neutral. It wants to foster competition rather than to create a monopoly by giving certain companies an advantage in this highly lucrative field. It hasn’t outlined the changes it will make yet, however.