UPDATE: U.S. Sets New Guidance for Developers of Autonomous Vehicles

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao says the department’s updated “Vision for Safety: 2.0” clarifies federal guidance for self-driving-vehicle developers but “is not an enforcement document.”

She does say the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will have power to recall semi- or fully automated vehicles that are found to be unsafe. But otherwise, Chao asserts, a voluntary approach is the best way to encourage progress in such a rapidly changing technological field.

Carmakers and tech providers quickly applauded the more nimble guidelines for providing stability, flexibility and enabling them to test autonomous vehicles nationwide. But consumer groups worry that the new recommendations may leave the public insufficiently protected from the shortfalls of largely untested technology.

The revised guidelines, which Chao says are likely to be updated again next year, drop the 15-point safety assessment suggested in the original 116-page guidance created under the Obama administration.