US Congress Working On National Self-Driving Vehicle Legislation

  • Published on June 10th, 2017

The US Congress is working on legislation to speed up the rollout of self-driving vehicle technology that could potentially supersede state-level rules, according to a number of House and Senate lawmakers who spoke to Reuters earlier this week.

by James Ayre 

The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, commented that they were getting close to unveiling the package of legislation that would overhaul federal rules on the matter: “We’re getting very close. I think it’s a good package. We’ve put a lot of work into it.”

Walden noted that there was “good bipartisan agreement” — not too surprising considering that there often is in US politics when it comes to industries dominated by large firms, such as the auto industry.

The legislation package will reportedly be unveiled within the next few months. The goal of it, according to Walden, is to make it so that people a generation from now think: “‘What a bunch of barbarians — they drove themselves? Are you kidding me? And look at how many died every year and they thought that was acceptable?’”

Seems a worthwhile goal. Though, it remains to be seen how quickly self-driving vehicle tech will be adopted by the public once released. I tend towards the view that uptake in large cities will be rapid, but outside of such environments it will be much slower, for various reasons.

Reuters provides more: “Senator John Thune, a Republican who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, is also working on a legislative self-driving proposal with Senator Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat. ‘We’re not there yet but we are getting closer,’ Thune said.

“Thune and Walden spoke to Reuters on Tuesday after getting a ride in a self-driving Audi, a unit of Volkswagen AG. … Thune said he planned to hold a hearing on June 14 about self-driving car issues but did not put a specific timetable on introducing legislation. He said he wanted to avoid a ‘patchwork’ of regulations from 50 different states on self-driving cars and look at cybersecurity and other issues.”

As discussed in earlier articles on the subject, as it stands, different states have vastly different approaches to self-driving vehicle testing and legality — which poses something of a problem for those looking to test their tech. As a result, many major firms have been pushing for federal standardization.

(Originally appeared at our sister-site, Cleantechnica)

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