Obama administration officials have rolled out a plan they say will enable automakers to get self-driving cars onto the road without compromising safety. In drawing up 112 pages of guidelines, the government tried to be vague enough to allow innovation while at the same time making sure that automakers, tech companies, and ride-hailing firms put safety first as the cars are developed, the AP reports. States have historically set the rules for licensing drivers, but the Transportation Department says it, rather than the states, would be responsible for regulating cars controlled by software.
The guidelines released Tuesday tell companies to explain how they'll comply with a 15-point safety assessment before they roll out the cars. And the guidelines also make clear that the DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will force recalls if software doesn't perform as it should. Among other things, the safety assessment asks automakers to document how the car detects and avoids objects and pedestrians, how the car is protected against cyberattacks—and what sort of backup system is in place in case the computers fail. (This tech expert thinks cars should own themselves as well as drive themselves.)