Google’s driverless car systems could be considered as legal drivers if the US manages to amend its highway rules.
The changes will help accelerate the adoption of autonomous cars on public roads, which are already being trialled in the UK.
A letter from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to Chris Urmston, Google’s director of self-driving cars, said that the US authorities will look at considering car-driving artificial intelligence (AI) systems as drivers.
"The NHTSA will interpret ‘driver’ in the context of Google’s described motor vehicle design as referring to the [self-driving system], and not to any of the vehicle occupants,” wrote NHTSA chief counsel Paul Hemmersbaugh.
"We agree with Google that its [autonomous car] will not have a ‘driver’ in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers for more than 100 years."
The NHTSA said that it will draw up rules that address these changes, but it will take some time to do so, leaving Google to carry out its driverless car testing under existing US federal rules for the time being.
But the NHTSA’s acknowledgment of the need for new road rules for driverless cars is positive, and could boost the testing and development of driverless cars from Google and major carmakers.
So while we’re waiting for driverless cars to become mainstream, car driving AIs are going up in the world and potentially becoming more human if Jaguar Land Rover has its way.
In other driverless car news, Bloomberg reported that snowflakes blind the sensors that feed autonomous systems with road data. This blocks the flow of information that the autonomous systems need to navigate the road ahead.
This happened in Sweden when autonomous system testing saw Volvo’s driverless XC90 SUV hampered by snow.
This is a problem that Volvo chief information officer Klas Bendrik is looking to solve, along with putting more technology into Volvo's connected cars.
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