Robotics & Automation News

Market trends and business perspectives

US government officials criticized for ‘inappropriate’ relationship with autonomous car developer Google

rights for robots

Consumer Watchdog has called on US President Barack Obama to hold expected autonomous vehicle policies and stop the administration’s undue haste to get autonomous vehicle technology on the road after newly released documents showed “an inappropriate and possibly unethical relationship between Google and key members of your administration involved in developing autonomous vehicle policy”. 

In a letter to Obama, John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director, writes: “The new revelations make it even more imperative that any such NHTSA policy statements be delayed until adequate Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards covering autonomous technologies are implemented through a public rule-making process.” 

Consumer Watchdog also says any autonomous vehicle rule-making must adhere to five principles:

  1. No state pre-emption;
  2. No underground regulations;
  3. Enforceability;
  4. Transparency; and
  5. No revolving door.

The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to release its new autonomous vehicle policy as early as Wednesday.

“Emails from 2011 through 2016 between Google employees and White House, NHTSA and Department of Transportation officials obtained by the Campaign for Accountability show Google used its influence in the Obama administration to push its vision for self-driving cars, enlisting White House officials and federal regulators to lobby state officials about rules that might have hindered the Internet giant’s business plans,” the letter said.

“Instead of a transparent process involving all stakeholders your administration simply deferred to Google. At one point for example White House technology advisor R. David Edelman, simply sent an email asking Google to send its policy priorities for ‘us government types.”