NHTSA encourages continued self-driving car research but says robot cars aren’t ready for showrooms quite yet

Googl self-driving Toyota PriusNo one thought self-driving cars would become reality as quickly as they have and the legal system is having just as much trouble grappling with that situation as a motorist being tailgating by one of Google’s Priuses.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is asking individual states to keep autonomous vehicles out of showrooms until further research is conducted. On Thursday, the agency issued a policy statement with guidelines for that research.

Nevada and California have already passed laws governing the operation of experimental autonomous vehicles on public roads; NHTSA says its research will help individual states hoping to follow the trend draft legislation of their own.

“As additional states consider similar legislation, our recommendations provide lawmakers with the tools they need to encourage the safe development and implementation of automated vehicle technology,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a statement.

The research will involve developing system requirements for autonomous vehicles and analyzing how human drivers interact with them. Fully autonomous cars, as well as cars with some features that allow them to act autonomously (such as automatic braking) are being scrutinized.

NHTSA has created a scale of vehicle autonomy to help in the process, including ratings for cars that are not fully autonomous.

Level 0 vehicles have no automatic features, Level 1 includes features like electronic stability control and pre-charged brakes and Level 2 includes limited automation of primary controls, as seen in adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist.

Today’s self-driving cars are considered Level 3, since a human driver is still expected to take over in emergencies. Level 4 vehicles can operate with no human intervention at all, but none have been built. So far.

For now, NHTSA is encouraging continued testing of self-driving cars on public roads, but the agency does not believe the technology is ready for consumers.

“While the agency does not believe that self-driving vehicles are currently ready to be driven on public roads for purposes other than testing, the agency would like to emphasize that it is encouraged by innovations in automated driving and their potential to transform our roadways,” NHTSA’s policy statement said.

NHTSA’s recommendations to individual state legislatures include: a special licensing program for autonomous car testers, limitations on where and when the vehicles can be tested, so as not to pose a risk to normal motorists, and easy way to transition back to manual control, and appropriate warning and data recording systems in case of emergencies.

Such clarifications are necessary, because the legal status of self-driving cars is still a bit ambiguous. Before they legalized these vehicles, Nevada and California didn’t have any laws explicitly banning them either.

That would have made for a very interesting police report if a robot rear-ended someone.

Do you think self-driving cars should share the road with human drivers? Tell us in the comments.

Cars

Many adults believe fully self-driving cars are already traversing U.S. highways

The American Automobile Association tested cars with features such as lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control and found them lacking in real-world conditions. Forty percent of surveyed U.S. adults think self-driving cars exist now.
Cars

Born to run (forever): The most reliable cars you can buy right now

We all dread the thought of our car turning into a money pit, but choosing a dependable vehicle from the start can help us rack up countless care-free miles. Here, we've rounded up some of the most reliable cars available.
Cars

Out of juice? Learn how to jump-start a car with this quick guide

Jumping a car is a simple procedure, but not everyone knows how to properly do so. To make things easier, we've put together a quick-hit guide on how to fire up your vehicle using jumper cables and a second power source.
Cars

From Rolls-Royce to Lamborghini, these are the most expensive cars in the world

If you recently discovered an oil reserve in your backyard, you probably have some extra cash to spend. Look no further, because we’ve rounded up the most expensive cars in the world.
Cars

Prep your car for the coming snow and sleet with these cold weather tips

Driving in the winter, whether downtown or across the country, is rarely easy. Luckily, we've put together a quick rundown of a few things you should do to winterize your car before the snow officially hits.
Digital Trends Live

DT Daily: Waymo’s driverless cars, ‘Fallout 76’ tips, and Racella

In today's episode of DT Daily, we discuss Waymo's foray into the ridesharing sector, along with various tips for making the most of the recently launched Fallout 76. We also sit down with singer Racella to chat about her new EP, Waves.
Cars

Jeep’s outdoorsy Gladiator pickup truck bares it all ahead of schedule

Jeep will introduce the long-promised Wrangler-based pickup truck at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Named Gladiator, the model was designed to conquer the great outdoors, not for the construction site.
Cars

Want to keep connected on the road? Here are 5 ways to add Bluetooth to your car

The best way to make an old ride feel young again is to bring it up speed with the 21st century. Here's how to properly add Bluetooth to your vehicle, via independent kits, vehicle adapters, or aftermarket head units.
Cars

The hamster-friendly 2020 Kia Soul will rock out at the Los Angeles Auto Show

Kia has released a teaser image to preview the next Soul. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2020 Soul will keep the outgoing model's boxy proportions but it will wear a sharper design.
Cars

2020 Toyota Corolla sedan aims to offer sharper handling, better tech

The 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan gets the same upgrades as the recently-introduced Corolla hatchback, including a firmer foundation, new engine, and more tech features. Will that be enough to keep the long-lived Corolla nameplate relevant?
Cars

Startup Rivian exits stealth mode with a bold promise to electrify off-roaders

Electric car startup Rivian has finally turned off stealth mode and provided details about what it's been working on since 2009. It will build battery-powered off-roaders instead of taking on Tesla and others in the luxury EV segment.
Cars

Honda will squeeze another model into its SUV lineup at the Los Angeles show

Honda will introduce a new SUV with a familiar nameplate at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show. It envisioned the 2019 Passport as a five-seater alternative to the eight-seater Pilot. The two models will share a platform and many tech features.
Cars

Uber rolls out rewards program that lets its most loyal riders lock in prices

Uber launched a new loyalty program today called Uber Rewards. It offers frequent riders credits to Uber Eats, car upgrades, and the ability to lock in prices on their most traveled routes.
Cars

The world’s first 3D-printed titanium wheels are so intricate they look fake

HRE Performance Wheels and GE Additive have teamed up to create the world's first 3D-printed titanium wheels. They are not only impressively durable, but extremely lightweight as well.