US House passes bill for self-driving cars

Congress passes bill on self-driving cars

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was expected to unveil the revised guidelines next Tuesday at a self-driving vehicle testing facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan, four people briefed on the matter said.

The U.S. House on Wednesday unanimously approved a sweeping proposal to speed the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls by putting federal regulators in the driver's seat and barring states from blocking autonomous vehicles.

"We look forward to working with members of the House and Senate to enact autonomous vehicle legislation that enhances safety, creates new mobility opportunities, and facilitates innovation".

The bipartisan measure would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop new safety standards for self-driving cars. Meanwhile, the states will handle matters like inspections, insurance and liability.

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The Self Drive Act provides exemptions to automakers for 25,000 autonomous test vehicles that don't meet safety standards in the first year and rises to 100,000 vehicles over three years.

The companies are anxious to avoid a quagmire of confusing and often contradictory state and local laws and regulations while they try to figure out the complexities of the self-driving systems that will make autonomous cars possible. That said, allowing such vehicles to be tested on public roads even without meeting the same safety standards as the other cars on the road could be a recipe for disaster.

The House bill exempts a limited number of self-driving cars from federal rules.

The bill doesn't apply to commercial vehicles, which were carved out after labor unions expressed concern that self-driving trucks would eliminate jobs.

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The action now moves to the Senate, where Republican John Thune of South Dakota and Democrats Bill Nelson of Florida and Gary Peters of MI are leading work on legislation of their own.

Last month, Record reported that the US Federal Committee on Automation - a driverless-car federal advisory board formed by the the Barack Obama administration - had fizzled out under Trump.

Companies like Google-owned Waymo, Telsa, Uber, and longtime automotive manufacturers such as General Motors, have had to tiptoe around strict regulations in their testing of autonomous auto tech, and this legislation would certainly remove some of those road blocks.

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