U.S. House Committee approves legislation for deployment of autonomous self-driving vehicles

This is going to be a landmark bill.



In a significant development, an influential U.S. House committee has overwhelmingly approved a revised bipartisan bill on a 54-0 vote that will speed the deployment of self-driving autonomous vehicles in the country and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles.

The bill allows automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year; this cap will rise 100,000 vehicles annually over three years.

Technology and automobile companies believe the chances of Congress approving this legislation before the end of this year is high. They have been pushing for regulation that will enable them to deploy self-driving technology on the road.

Current federal rules bar self-driving cars, without humans to controls them on roads. Automakers opine California’s proposed rules are too restrictive to be meaningful.

This is the first significant bipartisan federal measure that will speed up the deployment of self-driving autonomous vehicles and require automakers to submit to safety assessment reports to regulators. Significantly, the legislation does not require automakers to have pre-market approval of advanced vehicle technologies.

The House of Representatives is likely to take up the bill when it reconvenes in September.

“Our aim was to develop a regulatory structure that allows for industry to safely innovate with significant government oversight,” said Representative Greg Walden, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Automakers will have to demonstrate self-driving vehicles to be at least as safe as existing vehicles.

Under this legislation while individual states can set rules on licensing, registration, liability, insurance and safety inspections, they however cannot set self-driving car performance standards.

As expected, automakers have praised the proposed legislation.



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