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US transport regulators may waive some safety rules to spur self-driving cars

The U.S. Transportation Department may waive some safety rules to make it easier for automakers to test self-driving vehicles, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced at a Thursday event in Detroit.




Safety regulators are expected to establish "best practices" guidelines for self-driving cars within six months, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will exempt as many as 2,500 vehicles from safety standards for up to two years, Reuters reported. U.S. President Barack Obama will additionally ask Congress to approve almost $4 billion over 10 years to speed up development.

The government may also bend its interpretation of rules to be more friendly to corporations, under the condition that businesses show their vehicles are safe. The NHTSA confirmed, for instance, that a BMW remote parking feature meets federal standards.

The organization will also work with states on developing uniform regulations, addressing one of the biggest auto industry complaints, and urge automakers to get exemptions when needed.

Thursday's event was attended by Google and Tesla — two of the leaders in self-driving technology — as well as some major established companies.

Absent in any official capacity, at least, was Apple, which is believed to be developing an electric vehicle for launch in 2019 or 2020. Although the first model may or may not be human-driven, Apple is thought to be working on self-driving systems regardless, and will need a clear regulatory path to achieve its aims.