Cars without steering wheels could soon be a thing in America
What must a car have in its most basic form? Most of us would probably say a set of wheels, something to power it and manual controls. Well, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in America has proposed a change to legislation that would change all that.
In a document of over 130 pages, the bureau responsible for ensuring the safety of those using passenger vehicles has proposed new ways of testing the safety compliance of cars fitted with automated driving systems. This is a challenging dilemma that registration agencies around the world are increasingly facing as auto makers become more and more insistent on creating self-driving cars.
The so-called Occupant Protection for Automated Driving Systems proposal explains how the NHTSA is looking at the option of separating vehicles into distinct categories: those that have fully automated controls and those that are manually operated. Where cars like Teslas that can pretty much operate themselves but still have a steering wheel and set of pedals will fit is as yet unknown.
The different categories will require different forms of scrutiny. In fact, a car with a steering wheel and passengers in the front row facing towards the road will have different safety standards and requirements than a car that is essentially a moving living room.
It seems then that the United States is getting ever closer to having robots circulating along the roads and with 90 percent of all accidents being caused by human error, it could well be a good thing.