Innovations in technology often come from the mavericks, guys in garages playing with motors. There have been some individuals trying out new ideas for self-driving cars. One of these pioneers might be the guy who brings the first successful autonomous vehicle to market, or many of them may be able to sell new tech to larger manufacturers, speeding the self-driving car into the consumer sphere.
Because, according to an Industry Week article, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been alerting these inventors to the sad fact that their products make them into manufacturers of motor vehicle equipment. That means that they are covered by federal regulations, including safety regulations.
“As you are undoubtedly aware,” one such letter read, “there is a high likelihood that some drivers will use your product in a manner that exceeds its intended purpose.” The recipient tweeted that this letter constituted “open threats.” It actually sounds fairly subtle.
But the letter also asked for details on the product, including “installation steps, user instructions, and a description of what might happen if the system were put in a car that doesn’t support it.” Penalties for failing to produce the information amounted to $20,000 a day.
The inventor in question was discouraged.
How do you feel about unregulated DIY driverless vehicles sharing the roadway with you? The answer to that question probably will determine whether this regulatory obstacle seems like a good thing or a bad thing. Senseless over-regulation putting a brake on exciting new discoveries, or sensible safety concerns reigning in cockamamie self-aggrandizement… it’s your call.
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