US House Unanimously Passes Bill to Speed Development of Self-Driving Cars

Jon Howard
September 8, 2017

Current federal rules prohibit self-driving cars without human controls on USA roads. Nevertheless, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, whose department runs the NHTSA, will be revealing the updated guidelines at an event next Tuesday in MI, according to Reuters.

On Wednesday, the House unanimously approved a sweeping bill that seeks to speed the real-world deployment of self-driving cars, and gives the federal government control over said vehicles. "We look forward to continue working with Members on both sides of the aisle in the House and the Senate to enhance auto safety and expanded mobility that will further solidify USA innovation and leadership". A separate autonomous vehicle bill is in the works in the U.S. Senate, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reportedly announcing updated self-driving guidelines next week. The cap would rise over three years to 100,000 vehicles annually.

The newly passed bill is created to accelerate the timeframe for allowing self-driving vehicles to be on the roads for testing without humans behind the wheel.

And, states could still set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspectors. "With this legislation, innovation can flourish without the heavy hand of government", Ohio Republican Bob Latta said on the House floor before the voice vote.

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Indeed, safety is a growing priority as today's roads become more and more congested. As per the bill, self-driving cars must demonstrate that they are as safe as existing vehicles.

The Senate has also been working on its own self-driving bill, and plans to hold a hearing in September to debate whether it will cover trucking as well.

The new guidelines are expected to be in line with what several automakers who called upon the Trump administration last November, to rethink and change. State rules proposed for autonomous cars in California are considered too strict, though. Automakers would also be required to provide regulators with safety assessments, but unlike in the Obama Administration guidelines, makers wouldn't need approval of new technologies in advance. The bill would give companies the go-ahead to deploy as many as 25,000 self-driving cars even before they have been proven to meet modern automotive safety standards.

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