By October 4, 2017 Read More →

US Senate committee approves legislation for autonomous cars

autonomous cars

Under the bill, states will be responsible for registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections of autonomous cars.

Autonomous cars legislation bars states from imposing regulatory road blocks

The US Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved legislation designed to quickly bring autonomous cars to market, and bars states from imposing regulatory road blocks.

The bill now moves to the Senate where it must be approved by the full Senate.  Last month, the US House passed a similar bill unanimously.

A number of automakers, including GM, Alphabet Co, Ford and others have been lobbying for the legislation, which is the first federal bill aimed at bringing self-driving cars to market.

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The measure will allow carmakers to be exempt from current safety rules that prohibit vehicles to operate on roads without human controls.

Registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections will be state responsibilities, but not performance standards.

Reuters reports Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal tried to amend the bill to require automakers to include human controls that could be used in the event of an emergency, but under opposition from other members, he dropped the proposal.  Some senators argued it would be more dangerous to allow humans to control autonomous cars.

Labour unions successfully lobbied to exempt large commercial trucks from the bill after raising safety and employment concerns.  Trucking organizations strongly supported including vehicles over 10,000 pounds in the legislation, but Democrats said they would not support the bill if it included bigger vehicles.

Claiming the bill lacked sufficient safeguards, auto safety advocates were not pleased with the bill which will allow carmakers to sell up to 80,000 autonomous cars annually within three years, if they can prove they are as safe as human-driven vehicles.

The cap on sales will be lifted completely after four years.

Under the legislation, the NHTSA has authority to exempt vehicles from existing federal safety requirements, and the agency has six months to make a determination.

The Commerce Committee also adopted a House approved provision that would require carmakers to include a rear seat alert system that would warn parents to not forget young children in car seats.



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