NHTSA Shortens Petition Process to Test Driverless Cars

The U.S. has streamlined the process it uses to grant temporary exemptions from vehicle safety standards for developers of advanced technologies such as autonomous cars that don’t have steering wheels.

The new rule speeds up the internal protocol followed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to decide whether a petition is complete enough for public review. The procedure applies to temporary exemptions for safety and bumper standards.

General Motors Co., for example, applied in January for an exemption that would allow it to launch a ride-sharing fleet of fully robotic shuttles.

NHTSA says the measure should shorten the process of gaining waivers. The agency emphasizes that the new rule retains the current philosophy that any technology seeking an exemption must provide a level of safety at least equal to that required by the rule being waived.