The Trump Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) have released guidelines for autonomous vehicle (AV) regulation, taking a market-based approach that will allow tech companies and automakers to police themselves.

“Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies: Automated Vehicles 4.0” (AV 4.0) coordinates rules and programs across 38 agencies and departments, providing guidance for state and local authorities on the federal government’s approach to the technology.

“AV 4.0 will ensure American leadership in AV technology development and integration by providing unified guidance for the first time across the federal government for innovators and stakeholders,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

Chao says AV 4.0 has three primary goals:

  • Prioritize safety and security
  • Promote innovation
  • Ensure a consistent regulatory approach

DOT released AV 2.0 in 2017, providing voluntary guidance to industry. A year later, AV 3.0 offered guidance for potential AV safety benefits and progress. AV 4.0 will be published in the Federal Register for public review and comment.

As with previous guidelines, AV 4.0 focuses on voluntary programs, not strict rules on testing and development. In the report, the regulators say voluntary standards are “a mechanism to encourage increased investment and bring cost-effective innovation to the market more quickly. Voluntary consensus standards can be validated by testing protocols, are supported by private-sector conformity assessment schemes, and offer flexibility and responsiveness to the rapid pace of innovation.”

The policy calls for the government to promote best practices, conduct research and pilot programs, and offer other assistance so stakeholders can plan and invest in the technology.

“We will also prepare for complementary technologies that enhance the benefits of AVs, such as communications between vehicles and the surrounding environment, but will not assume universal implementation of any particular approach,” regulators say.