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Regulator: Tesla crash shouldn't hinder self-driving research

Autopilot flaws aren't going to bring the car industry to a screeching halt, if you ask the NHTSA.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
July 24, 2016
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Reuters/Beck Diefenbach

If you thought that officials would halt progress on self-driving cars in the wake of a Tesla Autopilot crash in May, you're in for a surprise. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lead Mark Rosekind told guests at an event that he and other regulators don't plan to slow down the development of autonomous vehicle hardware. To him, the car business "cannot wait for perfect" -- people have to be "desperate" for any technology that could save lives. He isn't touching the Autopilot crash specifically (the NHTSA is still investigating), but it's reasonable to say that he doesn't currently see the tragedy changing his stance.

The statements suggest that Tesla won't face significant regulatory battles in the future, at least not with the NHTSA. Elon Musk largely shares Rosekind's opinion: that autonomous driver assistance features save more people as a general rule, even if they're not completely ready yet. There's some supporting evidence, too, So long as tech like Autopilot doesn't create a rash of incidents, any serious delays will come from the companies themselves.

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