Bipartisan deal paves legislation for self-driving vehicles for U.S. roads

The upcoming legislation is part of a bipartisan deal that is aimed at easing the entry of self-driving vehicles on U.S. roads.

Late on Wednesday, two U.S. senators disclosed that a bipartisan deal had been hammered out on legislation aimed at easing out the hurdles for getting self-driving vehicles to the market.

As per Senator Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat and Senator John Thune, a Republican who chairs the Commerce Committee, a deal has been reached on legislation that would be voted on by the committee on October 4.

The text of the agreement will be released later on Thursday.

Tech and car companies, including, Alphabet Inc, General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and others have lobbied for U.S legislation so as to provide the groundwork for them to bring self-driving cars to the market.

Currently, federal regulators have barred states from deploying autonomous vehicles on roads. Federal laws require that vehicles without human controls be barred for purchase.

As per two sources briefed on the matter, the bill does not include larger commercial trucks.

“We expect adoption of self-driving vehicle technologies will save lives, improve mobility for people with disabilities, and create new jobs,” said Thune and Peters in a joint statement.

Earlier this month, a similar bill was unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives but excludes vehicles above 10,000 pounds.

The House measure, the first significant federal legislation aimed at speeding self-driving cars to market, would allow automakers get approval to sell up to 25,000 vehicles in the first year, rising to 100,000 by year three, as long as they could demonstrate the vehicles are at least as safe as current vehicles with human controls.

While individual states can set rules on registration, insurance, licensing, liability, and safety inspections, they however cannot set performance standards.

While automakers will be required to submit safety assessment reports to regulators, the bill does not however require pre-market approval of advanced vehicle technologies.

Technology companies and automakers are racing to deploy autonomous vehicles near about 2020 and have been thus pushing for new federal rules which allows them to deploy self-driving technology.

While consumer groups have sought additional safeguards, advocates of autonomous vehicles have said their deployment could potentially reduce U.S. road deaths, which rose 7.7 percent in 2015, the highest annual increase since 1966.

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