- REUTERS/Larry Downing
President Barack Obama is giving his blessing to self-driving cars.
In an op-ed article featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Obama lauded the efforts of tech giants that are developing self-driving technology to make transportation safer and more accessible.
“In the 7 1/2 years of my presidency, self-driving cars have gone from sci-fi fantasy to an emerging reality with the potential to transform the way we live,” Obama wrote.
While Obama said the government must play a huge role in nurturing the development of self-driving technology, he cautioned that the government must ensure consumers’ safety without hampering the industry with too much regulation.
“Regulation can go too far,” he said. “Government sometimes gets it wrong when it comes to rapidly changing technologies. What’s more, the quickest way to slam the brakes on innovation is for the public to lose confidence in the safety of new technologies.”
The Department of Transportation is set to unveil guidelines on Tuesday for the development of autonomous vehicles that include a 15-point safety checklist that vehicle manufacturers are recommended to meet. The DOT’s guidance also clarifies the role of federal and state governments in regulating self-driving cars.
The White House’s guidelines come weeks after Uber launched a pilot self-driving program that allows customers to hail rides in driverless cars in Pittsburgh.
Safety concerns have been raised by the technology that is effectively setting out to make driving safer by eliminating human error. More than 35,000 people died last year in vehicle accidents, according to data from the National Safety Council.
In June, a driver using Tesla’s Autopilot system, a feature that allows the car to be semiautonomous, was involved in a fatal crash – the first of its kind involving an autonomous vehicle.