Law & Order

NHTSA Anticipates Revised Safety Standards for Cars Without Steering Wheels

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has requested the public to assist in identifying any regulatory barriers within the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) to the testing and certification of motor vehicles with Automated Driving Systems (ADS) or unconventional interior designs. The agency’s primary focus is on ADS vehicles without manual driver controls, such as the steering wheel, brake and accelerator pedals. For example, many safety standards include references to “driver” and “driver’s seating position,” and the test procedures assume that there will be a human driver. 

Further, there may be instances in which the safety standard includes requirements unnecessary for ADS vehicles, such as telltale driver displays. These vehicles will incorporate new or improved technologies, such as sensors, cameras, lidar and radar. Nevertheless, NHTSA wants to maintain current FMVSS performance requirements while permitting the incorporation of ADS. Comments are due by March 5. 

For additional information, contact Stuart Gosswein at