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U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution In Roadway Safety (Sept. 21, 2016) (full-text).


This policy is designed to expedite the development and deployment of autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies in the United States while protecting public safety. The new policy applies to the full array of AVs, ranging from driver assisted to wholly autonomous technologies. Although the policy pertains to automobiles, a number of aspects of the new policy are likely relevant to autonomous technologies developed or used in other modes of transportation.

The policy had several parts:

  • guidance for manufacturers, developers, and other organizations outlining a 15-point “Safety Assessment” for the safe design, development, testing, and deployment of highly automated vehicles;
  • a model state policy, which clearly distinguishes Federal and State responsibilities and recommends policy areas for states to consider, with a goal of generating a consistent national framework for the testing and operation of automated vehicles, while leaving room for experimentation by states;
  • an analysis of current regulatory tools that NHTSA can use to aid the safe development of automated vehicles, such as interpreting current rules to allow for appropriate flexibility in design, providing limited exemptions to allow for testing of nontraditional vehicle designs, and ensuring that unsafe automated vehicles are removed from the road; and
  • a discussion of new tools and authorities that the agency could consider seeking in the future to aid the safe and efficient deployment of new lifesaving technologies and ensure that technologies deployed on the road are safe.

This policy was replaced by Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety in September 2017.