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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) decision has allowed driverless cars to no longer require manual controls, which opens the flood gates for new, innovative automobile designs.
For a new vehicle to be approved for street use in the United States, it must meet the NHTSA’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and require that all vehicles have specific features, which include pedals and steering wheels.
Manual controls are not needed for an autonomous car, although manufacturers of autonomous vehicles must include them nevertheless due to the ancient rules. Sadly, that has made cars much more expensive and complicated than they need to be as there has been minimal innovation in new designs.
New NHTSA Rules Autonomous Driving
The NHTSA recently updated their standards to remove the requirement for vehicles designed exclusively for autonomous driving to have manual controls, now viewing them as “logically unnecessary.”
The new updated standards also explain how producers should apply the new standards when inventing driverless cars.
Car manufacturers have not waited for the NHTSA official ruling to start creating driverless vehicles without the need for steering wheels along with other manual controls.
Self-driving car companies Cruise and GM have already invented such a vehicle which they call the “Cruise Origin,” and are ready to begin producing it before the end of this year (2022).
Amazon-owned company Zoox also created a similar vehicle design as the Cruise: a big cabin with two seating rows facing the vehicle’s center with sliding doors on the passenger side.
Proof of Concept
Before these driverless vehicles can be approved for the road, they must prove that they can operate fully autonomously in certain conditions without help from a driver.
Driverless vehicles with those types of abilities (and steering wheels) can already be found on the roads in specific areas. Their extensive deployment can make the streets far safer by removing a type of human error, and it plays a critical role in almost all traffic accidents.
In the U.S. alone, 50,000 people die due to vehicle accidents every year for the past 15 plus years now.