Proposed Self-Driving Car Rules Would Bar US States From Setting Own Rules

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The set of self-driving vehicle rules now being proposed by a group of US House Representatives would bar individual states from putting their own testing and design regulations in place, going by the contents of a draft proposal that was obtained by Reuters.

In conjunction, federal regulators would themselves be barred from “demanding pre-market approval for autonomous vehicle technology.”

Considering that states such as California have in recent years established their own regulatory processes more or less from the ground up, this would be an enormous change to the state of things, a change that would seemingly be welcomed by many or most of the companies involved in the self-driving vehicle development space.

Reuters provides more: “The draft legislation, while far from becoming law, still represents a victory for General Motors Co, Alphabet Inc, Tesla Inc and other automakers and technology companies who are seeking to persuade Congress and the Trump Administration to pre-empt rules under consideration in California, New York and other states that could limit deployment of self-driving vehicles.

“The industry also opposed an Obama administration proposal last year that raised the possibility of giving regulators the power to review and approve self-driving car technology before it was put into service, similar to the vetting by Federal Aviation Administration of new technology for aircraft.

“The 45-page draft package of 14 bills would designate the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as the lead agency for regulating self-driving cars, pre-empting state rules.”

States would themselves retain the right to set their own registration and insurance standards, though, as would be expected.

So, overall, it’s a pretty balanced proposal from the looks of it. I have to wonder how willing states such as California will be to accept the proposal’s possible enactment. Legal challenges could be in order if the draft legislation makes it through the legislature.

Reuters provides a bit more: “One of the bills in the proposal would allow the US Transportation Department to exempt up to 100,000 vehicles per year from US federal motor vehicle safety rules, which currently prevent the sale of self-driving vehicles without steering wheels, pedals and other human controls.

“Another would declare crash data, other testing and validation reports from automated cars turned over to US regulators to be ‘confidential business information.'”

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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