By Andrew Ganz
Tuesday, Oct 23rd, 2012 @ 5:02 pm
 

Recognizing that self-driving cars are potentially the way of the future, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a multi-year study designed to research standards and regulations for vehicles that don't require direct driver interaction.

NHTSA announced that vaguely defined timetable today at a policy seminar held at the Swedish Embassy in Washington, D.C., where Volvo has long been lobbying for national regulations for autonomous vehicles. Volvo is aiming to be the global autonomous vehicle leader; the automaker led the way on a "road train" of self-driven vehicles in Spain earlier this year.

Last week, Volvo announced that it is aiming to introduce its "traffic jam assist" system in less than 18 months that will allow so-equipped vehicles to automatically accelerate, brake and make minor steering corrections below 30 mph in high congestion situations.

Federal regulators are remaining mum on any specifics about the upcoming study, but their mere acknowledgement lends credence to tests http://www.leftlanenews.com/california-legalizes-self-driving-cars.html in California and Nevada. Google and Volvo have had what the two collectively call "extensive discussions" with http://www.leftlanenews.com/california-legalizes-self-driving-cars.htmlNHTSA, which regulates vehicle safety in the United States.

NHTSA says that it will evaluate and potentially regulate software and obstacle detection systems in autonomous vehicles.

Just two states - Nevada and California - currently have laws on the books regarding autonomous vehicles, but both states' regulations were designed to promote self-driving car testing, not general public use. Broadly-speaking, the goals of autonomous vehicles are to reduce driving fatalities, vehicle emissions and traffic congestion.

Nissan and Toyota have both recently been spotted testing self-driving cars, while most other major automakers have at least begun to dabble in the concept.