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US House passes bill for self-driving vehicle road testing

10 September 2017

Another interesting tidbit to note is that the bill would override any state-level laws prohibiting the testing of autonomous vehicle technology within state lines, effectively rendering the entire United States a testing ground for unproven self-driving systems. The cap would rise over three years to 100,000 vehicles annually.

The House passed legislation on September 6 that gives the Department of Transportation (DOT) the ability to set performance standards for autonomous vehicles under 10,000 lbs. The House measure does not include large trucks.

Basically, the proposed bill would make it possible for companies including Ford, Waymo, GM's Cruise and others to bypass some safety standards that now apply to human piloted cars, including requirements like that they have steering wheels and gas pedals on board.

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The US House of Representatives [official website] on Tuesday approved legislation [HR 3388 materials] to allow self-driving cars into the marketplace.

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., who sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee with Latta, was the only co-sponsor of the bill from the Sunshine State. A similar bill was already circulating in the upper chamber and could be put up for a vote yet this week.

Advocates hope self-driving cars would help reduce U.S. road deaths, which increased 7.7 per cent in 2015, the highest annual jump since 1966.

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Trade groups representing companies such as Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Lyft Inc. and others working on the technology voiced strong support for the bill. Commercial vehicles are not included as part of the House bill.

Wade Newton, senior director of communications for the Auto Alliance, an industry lobbying group, says exempting the vehicles would speed development of beneficial new transportation technologies.

Under the proposed legislation, American automakers will be able to ask the US Department of Transport for exemptions to safety standards, allowing them to get autonomous vehicles onto the streets for testing and deployment faster. The group also urged additional funding for NHTSA.

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In order to do so, it would have to demonstrate its control software and computer hardware is safe and secure enough to sidestep tough regulations that otherwise apply to vehicles.

US House passes bill for self-driving vehicle road testing