Latest News 2017 August House Panel Approves Wider Testing of Self-Driving Cars

House Panel Approves Wider Testing of Self-Driving Cars

Self-driving cars have taken another small step forward in the House of Representatives last month. A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has backed a bill that would allow for widespread testing of self-driving cars on U.S. roads. The bill could be taken up by the committee proper this week, and the bill could be presented to the House as soon as September.

Specifically, the bill would allow companies to put up to 100,000 autonomous vehicles on the road while being exempt from meeting current safety standards. The exemptions are designed to speed up testing of new technology. Currently, only 2,500 self-driving vehicles are permitted to be exempt from current safety standards.

The bill would also require oversight over manufacturers—requiring them to report any crashes and be subject to halting tests if a defect is discovered.

Limiting Local & State Regulation

When it comes to regulating U.S. roads, the laws are designed to allow states to regulate drivers while giving federal power to regulate cars. The self-driving car bill would be no different—it would bar state and local governments from putting limits on the design or manufacturing of autonomous vehicles. However, representatives assured reporters that the auto industry would still be heavily regulated and subject to the Department of Transportation.

While making 100,000 cars exempt from meeting current safety standards sounds concerning, the fact is that the faster self-driving technology can be developed, the sooner our roads will be safe. Up to 94% of all car accidents are caused by human error—by giving a boost to autonomous driving technology, it's possible that automakers can save thousands of lives in the next decade or more.

Self-driving cars also offers a way for the elderly and people with disabilities to be mobile and self-reliant, giving them opportunities the rest of us may take for granted.

At the same time, the law is notorious for taking a long time to catch up to technology—and how a self-driving vehicle accident would be litigated (or who would be found responsible) is still unclear.

Categories: Driver Safety