The Feds Just Got Real About Self-Driving Cars (It’s About Time)

"The key is that NHTSA doesn’t specify, or even care, how automakers check those boxes, as long as they do. “This marks an attitudinal change,” says Bryant Walker Smith, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law who studies self-driving vehicles. Rather than mandating an approach (like using sans serif font for the vehicle identification number and the exact kinematic viscosities of brake fluid), the agency will be openminded.

That means, Smith says, NHTSA doesn’t have to fight to hire computer vision experts. Let’s face it, they’d rather work for Google or Uber. If NHTSA representatives can figure out what kinds of questions to ask, and have a good sense of what a credible answer sounds like, they can reasonably judge what technologies are safe."