U.S. Congress drew autonomous cars one step nearer to fully-fledged deployment on the roads after a House panel took a unanimous decision allowing carmakers to utilize up to 100 thousand autonomous vehicles nationwide prior to branch safety rules and regulations development and adoption.
The bill received full support from both parties recommending federal regulators to come with the necessary safety oversight as soon as possible. A Republican Robert Latta, head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection panel, said appropriate changes will be considered before the next week full committee sittings. However, the House of Representatives will study the new legislation in September when it reassembles after the August recess.
Latta also admitted that this measure will be the first significant law allowing automakers aiming at speeding up the deployment of autonomous driving technology. Even though carmakers will have to send their safety assessment reports to federal regulators, including a cybersecurity plan, any premarket approvals will not be necessary.
According to the legislation, automakers are required to demonstrate driverless cars functionality and safety features, although the Transportation Department cannot set up terms on autonomous cars utilization. However, there are some proposals to think over regulations for self-drivers and start developing them during the next 18 months.
This urgent decision was taken in response to increased levels of traffic deaths in the U.S. According to government data, road deaths rose 7.7% in 2015 and nearly 8% within the first 9 months in 2016.
Current car safety regulations do not allow exploiting autonomous techs with no human driver inside. There are almost 75 safety precautions which presume a driver controlling the vehicle. Multiple motor companies appealed to the Congress, asking it to prevent the adoption of limiting regulations for self-drivers in several states. The states can still set rules to regiment safety inspections, licensing, insurance, liability, and registration but autonomous vehicle performance standards cannot be set.
According to some estimates, the new legislation will create a strong but flexible regulatory foundation to be used in local rules. Nevertheless, Democrats want to have the possibility to add safety measures to the law if needed. The Auto Alliance, a trade group of automobile manufacturers, is happy the Congress has moved forward with the urgent law making and expects the law to be perfected as well. The U.S. Consumers Union also wants the legislation to regulate autonomous cars safety on a federal level.
The previous Presidential Administration put forward some recommendations on autonomous technology offering carmakers to deliver safety assessment. The current administration claims that it is updating the existing recommendations to provide them to the general public within the following months.