The Race Is On After Feds Pave Way for Driverless Trucks

"Ryan Calo, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law, allows that the document "concedes a lot to industry," but he adds that "it also reflects some mature thinking on the part of the DOT."

The document, notably, in a departure from each of the previous versions issued in 2016 and 2017, acknowledges that autonomous vehicles present a new kind of safety risk, even if they'll reduce the number of collisions overall. Previous guidance, by contrast, had simply highlighted the need for developers to minimize risks to public safety.

"They understand that things may happen with autonomous vehicles that wouldn't happen with human drivers," Calo says. "They're saying there may be fewer accidents, but there will also be different accidents, and we need to plan for that.""

""That seems to be the implication: that there is a political commitment from U.S. DOT to facilitate interstate commercial trucking and that, second, the agency will be able to pre-empt state laws," says Bryant Walker Smith, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law who studies law and technology. "What it reflects is a striking political commitment to automated trucking from this DOT.""