Regulators seek driverless car rules

The advancement has not gone unnoticed back in Washington. Tech use in cars — from dashboard consoles to smartphones — already had the Department of Transportation working closely on new distracted driving rules, for example. On-board computers also have raised a number of privacy concerns about how much information cars collect about their drivers and what’s done with it. In fact, a report released Monday from the Government Accountability Office found sweeping disparities in how automakers collect and use location data — and inconsistent deletion policies. And there’s no shortage of legal issues around driverless vehicles — from where they can be used to who’s responsible in the event of an accident.

All of those developments, however, have brought a debate that’s far more analog than the cars it concerns: Regulators want checks, companies want to avoid any new responsibilities — and both are in a race over regulation.

The changing landscape has brought some once-unlikely partnerships, many evident at CES this week. The new Open Automotive Alliance — announced at the show as a collaboration of companies like Google, chipmaker Nvidia and car giants like GM and Audi — would see the search giant’s Android operating system powering the guts of car computers. Still others are moving forward on their own offerings. Ford, for example, demonstrated new smartphone technology that can link up with a car and track location, monitor fuel and set the temperature.