US regulator removes human control requirement for automated vehicles


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued revised final rules for automated vehicles.

The changes eliminate the need for automated vehicles to equip manual driving controls to meet crash standards.

The rule change comes as more and more autonomous technologies are hitting the road.

The NHTSA did not create new rules, rather they reworked existing ones.

The existing rules that the NHTSA revised assumed vehicles “will always have a driver’s seat, a steering wheel and accompanying steering column”.

The antiquated rule assumed people were in control and hindered innovation within the automotive sector.

This rule change is not out of nowhere. The revisions were part of a March 2020 proposal by the NHTSA to change and revise specific sections of the regulations.

A few things to note on the revised rules from the NHTSA: (via Reuters)

  • Automated vehicles will still need to provide the same levels of occupant safety as human-driven vehicles
  • Children should not occupy the traditional driver position within the vehicle. However, the vehicle does not need to immediately cease operation if a child does occupy the seat.
  • Manufacturers may still need to petition the NHTSA for an exemption to sell automated driving system vehicles.
About Scott Nordlund 1562 Articles
Originally from the West Coast, Scott is an avid writer & EV enthusiast now living in Ottawa. He holds a MA in Political Science and once played professional football in the German Football League. Email