Date
17 October 2017
A self-driving car being developed by nuTonomy, a company creating software for autonomous vehicles, is guided down a street in Boston on June 2. Tech firms in the US have sought unified federal regulations on self-driving vehicles. Credit: Reuters
A self-driving car being developed by nuTonomy, a company creating software for autonomous vehicles, is guided down a street in Boston on June 2. Tech firms in the US have sought unified federal regulations on self-driving vehicles. Credit: Reuters

US Congress plans self-driving vehicle legislation overhaul

The US Congress is working on national self-driving vehicle legislation that could replace state-by state rules and make it easier for automakers to test and deploy the technology, Reuters reports.

It cited Congressman Greg Walden, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as saying that plans are afoot to unveil a package of legislation to overhaul federal rules governing self-driving vehicles.

“We’re getting very close. I think it’s a good package. We’ve put a lot of work into it,” Walden was quoted as saying in an interview.

There is “good bipartisan agreement” on the proposals, the lawmaker said, adding that he hopes to unveil and take up the package in the next month or two.

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.

The moves come as firms such as Alphabet Inc., the parent of Google, and Ford Motor have sought unified federal regulations to replace outdated rules govering self-driving cars.

This spring, Republican staff drafted a summary of 16 potential legislative proposals on federal reforms and regulations that they circulated to automakers.

Among proposals under consideration is one to allow the US Transportation Department to exempt up to 100,000 autonomous vehicles from current safety standards, which were written on the assumption responsibility for a car’s operation rested with the human driver, according to Reuters.

Another proposal would prohibit a state from restricting testing by a manufacturer of up to 250 vehicles.

Thune said he plans 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 wants to avoid a “patchwork” of regulations from 50 different states on self-driving cars and look at cybersecurity and other issues.

On Monday, the US Transportation Department said it will unveil revised self-driving guidelines within the next few months.

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RC

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