Image for article titled Sure, Why Not: Regulator Says Self-Driving Cars Don't Need Brake Pedals or Steering Wheels to Be Safe

Steering wheels, brake pedals, drivers, seats, or other manual driving controls are no longer needed for self-drive vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has previously required cars to pass crash standards. The NHTSA said that the updated regulations were meant to change words that will become obsolete as new design is applied. The emergence of new classes of vehicles built specifically with automation in mind make these controls unnecessary. The new standards could lead to more vehicle designs that emphasize entertainment and leisure opportunities.

Pete Buttigieg, a failed presidential candidate, described the changes to NHTSA's rules as necessary for continued innovation.

In the 2020s, an important part of US DOT's safety mission will be to ensure safety standards keep pace with the development of automated driving and driver assistance systems.

The agency received 45 comments from vehicle and equipment manufacturers, as well as industry associations, consumer advocates, and many others, since first proposing the new rules in March 2020. Many commenters supported the NHTSA's proposal, but others said the issue was still immature.

NHTSA acknowledges that there is uncertainty around the development and potential deployment of vehicles with Automatic Detection Systems.

Regulators tried to assure the public that the rules wouldn't come at the expense of public safety.

The need to keep the humans safe as the driver changes from a person to a machine in automated driving system must be integrated from the beginning.

The safety question will be important for the development. A lot of consumers are on the fence. According to a survey conducted in 2020, nearly half of U.S. consumers agree that vehicles won't be safe. The figure was down from the previous year but up from the year before. It's not a confidence boost.

The rule changes come as a win for many companies that were frustrated with the previous language of the regulators. The agency shot down the comment asking for the ability for drivers to control vehicles using tablets or other mobile devices.

NHTSA does not agree with the definition of manually operated driving controls being used to account for the use of tablets or cell phones to control the vehicle.