So it's no small thing that the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a massive bill on Wednesday aimed at speeding the development of self-driving cars on public roads and superseding the patchwork of regulations in individual states. It may turn out that hacking of self-driving cars is a greater threat to safety than the self-driving systems that make autonomous cars possible in the first place. One sticking point will be whether to include commercial self-driving trucks in the legislation. 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. It also instructs NHTSA to develop new standards for self-driving cars. It also bars states from preventing such testing, which many auto companies claim is critical to getting the vehicles to consumers within the next three to four years.
"There is strong bi-partisan support for the committee's self-driving vehicle legislation". The issue has gained a sense of urgency after a rise of deadly crashes in recent years following a period of decline.
A number of state associations expressed concerns in a letter Tuesday that the bill expands federal pre-emptions, and limits their role in regulating vehicle operations.
Automakers and technology companies, including General Motors Coand Alphabet Inc's self-driving unit Waymo, have sought easier federal rules for self-driving technology, while some consumer groups have pushed for more safeguards.
"Automakers have been developing these technologies for years and this legislation helps address a variety of barriers that otherwise block the ability to safely test and deploy these vehicle technologies", the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing GM, Ford, Volkswagen AG, and several other automakers said in a statement to Bloomberg.
Safety advocates have raised red flags. Within the same timeframe, research will also be conducted into the performance of vehicle headlights in an effort to improve overall safety.
It's likely that these new guidelines will take inspiration from the call that many automakers made last November, asking Trump to rethink and change self-driving guidelines that the Obama administration issued last September.