Did the feds just pave a legal path for self-driving cars?

The artificial intelligence inside a self-driving car could be considered a “driver,” the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said in a letter, possibly clearing the way for wider legal acceptance for autonomous vehicles on roads across America. The letter, dated Feb. 4 and first reported by Reuters, was in response to a request from Alphabet’s GOOG, -0.68% GOOGL, -0.45%   Google to interpret how federal vehicle-safety and driving regulations could affect its self-driving vehicles. While the letter is nether a formal policy ruling nor a recommendation, its tone suggests the agency is open to considering whether an artificial-intelligence system can be legally considered a driver. In the letter, the NHTSA said that as “foundational starting point,” it “will interpret ‘driver’ in the context of Google’s described motor vehicle design as…


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