U.S. Expected to Back Voluntary Rules on Testing Self-Driving Cars


DETROIT — The Transportation Department is expected to unveil voluntary guidelines for testing autonomous vehicles on Tuesday as part of a broader government effort to encourage the development of self-driving technology by automakers.

Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao is scheduled to announce the initiatives at a testing center for self-driving vehicles in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The rules are expected to establish a voluntary framework of safety guidelines for companies to test autonomous vehicles on public roads, according to a government official briefed on the announcement.

Ms. Chao is also likely to clarify the role that state governments play in regulating the technology, including the enforcement of traffic laws and vehicle insurance requirements.

The moves by the Trump administration come as lawmakers in Washington move toward enacting federal legislation covering self-driving vehicles.

Last week, the House approved legislation that would allow automakers to deploy hundreds of thousands of autonomous vehicles on American roads over the next few years.

A similar bill is being drafted in the Senate and is expected to be introduced soon.

Automotive and technology companies have been accelerating their testing of self-driving cars, and have backed legislation exempting autonomous vehicles from current motor vehicle laws.

Some safety campaigners and consumer groups have been critical of the move toward voluntary rules covering self-driving technology, and question whether autonomous vehicles are ready for wide deployment on public roads.

Automakers and government officials contend that the technology could reduce vehicle accidents and traffic fatalities.

The competition to develop self-driving cars has become fierce among auto industry giants such as General Motors and Ford Motor, as well as technology companies including Google and Apple.



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