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Feds On Self-Driving Cars: Eh, Nobody's Perfect

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Both National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are currently investigating a fatal crash that killed Joshua D. Brown back in May, where Brown’s Tesla Model S was cruising in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode. We don’t know what the exact outcome of those will be just yet, but we already know the Feds’ attitude: meh.

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Mark Rosekind, administrator of NHTSA, was speaking at a conference in San Francisco when he started talking about that incident and what it could mean for self-driving cars. Pete Bigelow, a reporter for Car and Driver, captured the gist of it in some tweets:

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It was actually an open question if NHTSA was going to do anything with the findings of its investigation (though it actually isn’t definitive at this point whether anything should be done, let alone what should be done), but it looks like that question has been at least partially answered.

But if you look at the history of transportation, Rosekind’s actually not far off from history. If we waited for the perfect car, then we never would have driven anything until the 1990s because that’s when the McLaren F1 descended from the heavens. And despite some demands that autonomy must be an all-or-nothing proposition, it doesn’t look like the government is going to enforce that notion without Congressional action.

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Anyways, if your cars drives itself, it will continue to drive itself in the near future, I guess.

Deputy Editor, Jalopnik. 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross.

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DISCUSSION

This auto pilot accident is the anti-vaxxer movement of the auto industry:

One incident out of millions, with no evidence the incident was caused by the thing designed to improve safety, and all these Chicken Littles start asking when we will be protected from the thing that objectively, measurably makes us safer by orders of magnitude.