This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed sweeping legislation that would serve as a blueprint for automakers to build and sell autonomous vehicles for public roads without these cars being applicable to current safety standards.
Automakers have already been paving the way toward the future of self-driving cars with pilot projects, building relationships and making in-roads to software and hardware development for these vehicles to be put on the road beginning in 2020. The bill from the U.S. House shows that the future of automotive technology resides in these technologies that are already under development and that the goals of these automotive vendors, chip companies, software vendors and others are on target with what the government is expecting.
The Self Drive Act would prevent states from regulating self-driving cars and would create a system to ensure that the new vehicles are safe. The national standards would prevent automakers and software companies from having to deal with different state rules that may crop up across the nation. In order for this bill to become law, the Senate must pass a version of the legislation and President Donald Trump would have to sign it. The Senate has scheduled a hearing on self-driving trucks for next week that may also touch on this legislation from the House.
Under the bill, a deployment of up to 25,000 self-driving vehicles per company would be allowed in the first year, rising to 100,000 vehicles annually in the third year. Automakers could request exemptions from federal protection rules, including those that protect occupants in a crash. These car crashes would be partially reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, the bill would not require automakers to notify consumers of system security breaches.
Auto lobbyists believe the bill will accelerate development of new transportation technologies while consumer organizations, including Consumer Reports, believe the legislation does not do enough to protect drivers on the road despite the safeguards that are included in the bill.