NHTSA agrees to consider self-driving computer as ‘driver’ of the vehicle

NHTSA agrees to consider self-driving computer as ‘driver’ of the vehicle

In a letter dispatched to tech giant Google earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)'s chief counsel Paul Hemmersbaugh seemingly supported the company's persuasive suggestion that the computers which control a self- driving car can be considered the 'driver' of the car.

Hemmersbaugh's February 4-dated letter to Google came in response to a letter which Google sent to the NHTSA on November 12,
2015.

In that letter, which was reviewed by Reuters on Wednesday, Google had said that the manner in which motor vehicle safety regulations are interpreted by the US auto safety regulators will have an "extremely important" impact on the potential advancement of the company's 'fully self-driving car' efforts.

The response that Hemmersbaugh has given to Google's letter seemingly hints at the NHTSA's acceptance of the company's standpoint that the computer systems controlling a self-driving car are the same as a human driver.

However, though Google had sought immediate waive-off of all safety rules required for allowing fully self-driving cars on the roads, Hemmersbaugh said in his letter to the company that the next step for the NHTSA would be to determine how the self-driving car "meets a standard developed and designed to apply to a vehicle with a human driver."

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