Five days ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc. (love how that can read "AI" with no imagination) that it agrees with the principal that the definition of a "driver" should be expanded to include a computer. The letter dated Feb 4 appears grossly underreported and just showed up on the agency's website this week.
Vehicle safety regulators in a 31 page document essentially says that an artificial intelligence system piloting a self-driving Google car could be considered "the driver" under federal law.
This is a major step toward winning federal and state approvals for autonomous vehicles operating on our roads. It will also redefine every conversation about what "mass transit" means and what our infrastructure priorities should be.
Redefining the driver is a strategy openly discussed by State Senator Mark Greenwhen developing the language for SB 1561 and while preparing potential revisions with participants in the Tennessee Autonomous Vehicle Legislative Task Force. The first formal meeting is tomorrow afternoon at the Tennessee State Capitol, provided we're not shut down by snow. Obviously, Mother Nature is the ultimate arbiter of roadway access, no matter who the driver might be.
"NHTSA will interpret 'driver' in the context of Google's described motor vehicle design as referring to the (self-driving system), and not to any of the vehicle occupants," NHTSA's letter said.
"We agree with Google [that] its (self-driving car) will not have a 'driver' in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years."
For more information read this article.