Self-driving cars spark new guidelines

Federal highway-safety regulators on Thursday sent a dual message about the prospect of more self-driving cars on the roads, encouraging experimentation with the nascent technology but cautioning against proceeding too far too fast, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In its most comprehensive response yet to experiments with self-driving cars by Google Inc. and some major car makers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said states should require drivers of prototype self-driving cars to get extra training and special licenses to show they can safely operate the vehicles on public roads. For now, the agency says states shouldn't allow operation of self-driving vehicles on public roads except for testing purposes.

The NHTSA, however, warned states against imposing too many specific regulations on a technology that is evolving rapidly. At a recent industry conference, executives said that by 2020 they expected consumers will be able to buy vehicles offering limited self-driving capability, and that by 2025 fully autonomous cars could be available in significant numbers.

Several states, including California, Florida and Nevada, have passed laws allowing operation of self-driving cars for testing purposes on public streets.

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