NHTSA Blurs the Line Between Human and Computer Drivers

Google’s self-driving car on the road in California. By JOHN MARKOFF February 10, 2016 SAN FRANCISCO — It appears that Google has persuaded federal regulators that — in some situations at least — the Tin Man has a heart. In a letter sent this month to Google, Paul Hemmersbaugh, the chief counsel for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seemed to accept that the computers controlling a self-driving car are the same as a human driver. The agency’s letter is certain to sharpen the debate over regulation of cars that can drive themselves, even though the technology is still probably years from becoming mainstream. The letter is also at odds with proposed rules in California, where much of the autonomous vehicle research is taking place. In a setback to Google’s autonomous car…


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