US House passes bill to clear path for self-driving cars

by Harriet Bell September 8, 2017, 0:39
US House passes bill to clear path for self-driving cars

This critical first step also leaves several open issues related to self-driving cars to be addressed by the Senate, regulators, the private sector, or future legislation. 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.

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. After the first year, the cap rises to 100,000 vehicles annually. "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. Performance standards would be left to design by the federal government, while states would retain ownership of rules on licensing, registration, insurance and safety inspection.

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The bill - which takes the abbreviated name of the SELF DRIVE Act - is meant to get vehicles without manual controls to market and prohibit states from blocking the technology's sale or use. 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.

Designers of self-driving cars have complained that the differing laws of each state have hindered the deployment of vehicles.

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President Donald Trump's administration is set to unveil revised self-driving vehicle guidelines next week in MI, responding to automakers' calls for elimination of legal barriers to putting autonomous vehicles on the road, sources briefed on the matter said on Tuesday. Early reports indicate debate over whether the Senate version should include provisions related to commercial trucks - a topic absent in the House bill. 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.

Through these changes, supporters of the act hope that more companies can get more autonomous cars on the streets with fewer roadblocks (pun unintended) for testing.

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