The US Department of Transportation says it is actively completing a previously promised revision of voluntary guidelines for driverless vehicles originally drafted by President Obama's administration.
During a press conference held in Detroit yesterday, US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told a group of reporters a new set of much-needed guidelines "will be released in the next few months, if not sooner," Reuters reported.
"The pressure is mounting for the federal government to do something," Chao said.
Chao was short on specifics about how the new guidelines will differ from those drafted by President Obama's administration. However, she said the administration did not intend to impose regulatory restrictions that might impede the development of self-driving cars.
"Too quick of movement toward rules may not be sustainable in the long term," Chao said, according to Bloomberg. "We don't want to have rules that may impede future advances."
Anthony R. Foxx, who was Secretary of Transportation during the President Obama administration, previously said the 15-point "safety assessment" in effect now would precede "rule making" policies to follow consisting of regulatory laws and mandates.
The lack of federal laws and mandates for the development and sale of driverless vehicles has served as a cause of confusion for the industry ahead of more clearly defined guidelines.
A case in point is how Audi was only recently able to begin testing its Level 3-enabled A7 on public roads in the state of New York until new legislation applicable to driverless vehicles was drafted. Previously, it was illegal for drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel of a car or truck while in motion in New York until the law was changed to accommodate driverless car manufacturer tests.
Like other OEMs developing driverless vehicles, Audi must comply with laws and regulations that can differ from state to state before they can test, and eventually, sell self-driving enabled models.
"The laws can really be different," an Audi spokeswoman told Driverless. "We were happy to finally begin the road tests in New York."