Tell NHTSA All Your Thoughts On Autonomous Cars

Illustration for article titled Tell NHTSA All Your Thoughts On Autonomous Cars
Photo: Ed Jones/AFP (Getty Images)

Do you have thoughts on autonomous cars? Maybe some reasonable concerns, some fears, some excitement? Well, get ready to put it all into words, because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to know what you have to say.


More specifically, NHTSA is developing a system of rules and regulations by which autonomous car makers would have to abide. It wants to “govern the safe behavior of automated driving systems (ADS) in the future,” as per its press release yesterday.

The full, 64-page proposal is available here.

In sum, NHTSA is going from concern about the design of ADS-equipped cars to their performance. The administration acknowledges that we’re definitely not going to have full self-driving cars any time soon, but it wants to establish some regulations about what these machines should look like before we have a ton of them on the road.

NHTSA’s notice focuses on four key areas of ADS use and development:

  • Sensing: How ADS receives information about its environment through a system of sensors
  • Perception: How ADS recognizes road signs, other cars, pedestrians, weather conditions, construction, etc.
  • Planning: How ADS determines the route it will take based on the above conditions, road signs, etc.
  • Control: How ADS actually carries out the actions it has decided on

NHTSA’s proposal obviously goes into more detail, but it’s basically just trying to get a set of agreed-upon rules established that make it simpler to judge the function of all these new ADS systems automakers are developing.

That’s where you come in. You are the people on the road. You’re the pedestrians, the drivers, the construction workers, the other autonomous riders. NHTSA wants to know your thoughts on its proposal, as well as any lingering concerns you might have. If you’ve ever had a strong thought about autonomy, now’s the time to be heard.

There are a few different ways to submit your thoughts:

  • Online: Go to Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Docket Management Facility, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. 20590.
  • Hand Delivery or Courier: U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
  • Fax: 202-493-2251.

(Do people still fax things?)

The government is asking you for your thoughts on, essentially, robot cars. Now’s the time to really let ‘em know what’s on your mind.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.



The last thing I want is an autonomous car.

I want a robot butler who can drive me around in any old car.

When will my needs be addressed?