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G-7 Nations Welcome US Guidelines On Self-Driving Cars

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The Group of Seven (G-7) nations reviewed and commended the guidelines forwarded by the United States on regulating self-driving cars, and agreed to pool efforts into making autonomous driving safe and efficient.

The news arrived on Sunday via Anthony Foxx, the U.S. Transportation Secretary.

He notes that the members of the G-7 ushered a warm welcome of the policy, and adds that the guidelines underlined the progress made by each country and set out further pacing.

Foxx considers that guidelines drafted by the U.S. in September 2016 are covering a wide array of issues pertaining to autonomous vehicles. In the document, the experts tackled problems such as cybersecurity, privacy and ethics, as well as connectivity issues regarding wireless spectrum, and others.

Foxx acknowledges that reaching a global resolution on the matter could take a very long time, but underlines that road tests must keep going to perfect the technology.

Self-driving vehicles are embedded with features that help drivers, but that does not make them infallible. In May, Tesla accounted for the first death related to autonomous driving when a Model S crashed into a tractor-trailer. In the wake of the accident, Tesla updated its Autopilot feature to increase behind the wheel safety.

Foxx refused to make any comments on the Tesla incident.

However, he underlined that it is wrong to compare self-driving cars with perfection, instead of human-driven cars.

"These vehicles will not be absolutely perfect [...], but by comparison they can be markedly better," Foxx says.

Tesla is not the only car builder that deploys semi-autonomous technology in its vehicles. Notable brands that are treading the self-driving path are Ford, Nissan and Toyota.

The new U.S. guidelines should streamline the development of autonomous cars, while ensuring they are increasingly safer. Advocates of these vehicles claim that technology is less prone to human error, as it is able to react faster and process a huge quantity of data in a way unmatched by human drivers. Some experts still advise caution, though.

Car Builder Cooperation

Companies are already teaming up to polish the technology.

Notable examples of cooperation come from Volvo and Swedish-based automotive safety group Autoliv, or Volvo and Uber. Ford already promised to invest $75 million in Velodyne, a firm that crafts laser sensors. Meanwhile, BMW, Intel and Mobileye inked a deal to join forces for developing and selling autonomous driving technology.

Hans Greimel, Editor for Automotive News, notes that the new U.S. guidelines represent a "proactive" step. So far, authorities used to roll out regulations after cars came out, but the guidelines will allow the nations to approve autonomous vehicles before they enter the market.

We look forward to seeing how the next-generation of automobiles will evolve after the implementation of the guidelines.

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