The U.S. government is finally, really getting involved in this whole self-driving car thing, and if you had any doubts about the reality of a driverless future, you can probably take the new regulations as a sign that autonomous vehicles are coming, and they're coming soon.
The New York Times reports that the Obama administration signaled on Monday for the first time that it believes the nation's roads can be better when computers take over the driver's seat, and it's making moves to allow technology and car companies room to make it happen.
"We envision in the future, you can take your hands off the wheel, and your commute becomes restful or productive instead of frustrating and exhausting," said Jeffrey Zients, director of the National Economic Council, adding that highly automated vehicles "will save time, money and lives."
The policies were unveiled as the Department of Transportation released the first, official safety standards guidelines for self-driving cars.
Google was the first massive company to start working on driverless cars a few years back, but since then, Apple, Tesla, BMW, Uber, and Lyft have all gotten into the game. Uber is currently testing out a small fleet of driverless cars in Pittsburgh, and Tesla has sold thousands of cars with what it calls "autopilot."
The new regulations come just over two months after a driver using autopilot in a Tesla died on a Florida highway after crashing into a tractor-trailer, marking the first auto crash death in a self-driving vehicle.