Lyft wants more explicit protection of consumer data from NHTSA on self-driving

Lyft has released extended comments regarding the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s guidelines on autonomous driving, released earlier this year. Lyft’s formal comments address a number of areas where it thinks the NHTSA policy is spot-on, including vehicle interiors designed to maximize passenger safety, but also outline some parts where they feel the government agency could improve its guidelines.

Lyft’s primary complaint seems to be that NHTSA doesn’t make it explicit in the guidelines that it’s not seeking consumer use data, specifically around identifying information including names, phone numbers, credit card info and usage data, including real-time and historic geolocation data. NHTSA’s policies encourage data sharing between OEMs and government agencies in order to speed the development of safe autonomous driving tech, but Lyft clearly wants to make sure that while doing so it can also continue to offer its customers the kind of privacy it ensures today.

The ride-hailing company also took time in its comments to outline where it fits in with highly autonomous vehicles (HAVs), basically as a network operator. It thinks that it and other ridesharing platforms are going to be key to educating consumers about how self-driving cars work, and what’s happening in real time with the vehicles when riders are using them. Lyft wants ridesharing’s role as an educational conduit for consumers made more formal in the guidelines, to basically spell out that it’s replacing human drivers as a way to explain how this whole thing works.

Lyft also wants more assurances that any HAV framework will apply nationally, and asks that provisions requiring individual licenses for each state be removed from the model guidelines NHTSA provides for adoption by individual states. Finally, it also wants Congress to award NHTSA more authority in terms of its statutory exemption powers when it comes to authorizing testing and introduction of automated driving technologies.

The full letter from Lyft to NHTSA is embedded below.