Self-driving carmakers urge regulators to whiff the steering wheel out the window

The federal government should rewrite the safety rules for automobile manufacturing so self-driving carmakers can deploy vehicles without traditional controls like steering wheels and pedals, according to public comments submitted by top car and tech companies.

And they should be quick about it.

“We urge [the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration] to move ahead promptly to remove the regulatory barriers the agency has identified,” David Quinalty, head of federal policy and government affairs at Waymo, wrote in a letter posted online on Thursday.

The letter is in response to a request for public comment by the NHTSA to a proposal it made last May to amend the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, a list of 75 rules that automakers must follow before selling cars to customers. Currently, those rules state that cars need to have controls such as a steering wheel and pedals.