Self-Driving Car Rules Lag for Years as Technology Speeds Ahead

The slow pace revived questions about NHTSA’s ability to regulate as well as its will. That idea popped up most recently in a February draft of self-driving car legislation, and Senate and House staff left space in it for how many personnel regulators should hire with expertise in cybersecurity, electrical and mechanical engineering, and software.

“In some levels, they’re viewing it as letting technology lead, but I think in many ways, technology is waiting for that direction from the federal agency,” said Robert Molloy, who leads highway safety at the NTSB. “This is one case with so many stakes, and so many designers, that I think that there’s a clear role for the federal government to not necessarily pick winners and losers, but to facilitate the implementation of this technology in a safe way by providing parameters by which to do it.”

Self-driving car legislation failed in the last Congress.