On Monday September 19st, the US Department of Transportation (“DOT”) released the “Federal Automated Vehicles Policy”, with the main goal of fostering the development of self-driving cars, also known as “automated vehicles” (“AVs”). Those are expected to be launched by several companies already by 2020. 

Legally speaking, this area is currently a complete grey zone. DOT Policy’s intends at ensuring “public safety while establishing a strong foundation such that the rules of the road can be known, understood and responded to by industry and the public”.

The policy addresses four main topics: (1) what the vehicles need to do to be safe; (2) what federal and state governments need to do; (3) how DOT will use its existing regulatory tools; and (4) DOT may need brand new regulatory tools to deal with AVs.

DOT will now conduct a significant public outreach to gather input on the policy and intends to publish a first update thereof within one year.

Click here for the full policy.