While the driverless-car industry continues to make headway in technology and testing, 2018 has not been very fruitful when it comes to federal legislation in the United States.

It has been more than year since the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the SELF DRIVE Act and many were hopeful that its Senate companion, the AV START Act, would get a green light in the past year. But a group of senators placed a “hold” on the bill, citing safety and cybersecurity concerns.

Early in December, lawmakers made one more push to pass the bill, but it stalled again, when an association of trial lawyers dropped its support from the legislation.

In the meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation expanded its voluntary safety guidelines for autonomous vehicles to shipping, freight and rail, in its Automated Vehicles 3.0 directive.

“DOT’s message is clear: Let industry lead the way and set the standards,” note Charles H. Moellenberg, and Robert W. Kantner, in a recent analysis.

They argue that the driverless-car industry has the opportunity to prove that it can safely regulate itself and earn public trust.

“Autonomous technology manufacturers should champion the regulatory freedom by developing voluntary standards to address safety, testing, cybersecurity, privacy, and confidential data-sharing with competitors,” they write.

Other experts say that lawmakers will have other chances to set national standards for the driverless-car industry.

“There is no need for a national law until the vehicles are commercially deployed,” Paul Lewis, vice president of policy and finance at the Eno Center for Transportation, told Roll Call. “But that time is coming, putting lawmakers in a unique position to act. Here we have an opportunity to see the future.”

In my next post, I’ll take a look at the latest conversation about the future of auto insurance in the age of driverless cars.

If you would like to learn more, you can read my Ultimate Guide to Self-driving Cars.

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