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Legislators To Figure Out Autonomous Car Laws

An Energy and Commerce subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives is going to get together Tuesday (Feb. 11) to figure out self-driving car legislation, according to a report by Reuters.

The committee will listen to a few trade groups from automakers and technology companies, as well as a transit official from San Francisco and a few different safety advocates. Legislators have been working for years on legislation to get rid of the barriers that would allow the vehicles to operate freely on roads.

Different sections for a draft of the law were released last summer. The bills could allow for the deployment of tens of thousands of autonomous cars onto highways and roads, if they passed certain safety requirements.

The law would also supersede state laws and disallow them from setting their own standards, in effect standardizing regulations nationwide.

“Manufacturers of autonomous vehicles and semi-autonomous technologies are working to transform the way we travel, and we must ensure that these technologies are rigorously tested and properly deployed with necessary safety oversight and accountability,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone and Subcommittee Chairmain Jan Schakowsky.

John Bozzella is the head of an auto trade association that represents General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG and other companies, and he’ll be a witness. Gary Shapiro is the head of the Consumer Technology Association, and he’ll also be in attendance, as will the director of transportation at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Jeff Tumlin.

One concern about impending legislation is that it would make lawsuits against self-driving cars null and void. A lawyer who works with the state affairs counsel at the American Association of Justice, which represents the attorneys of people bringing suits, will testify as well.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently gave permission for startup Nuro to release 5,000 low-speed electric delivery vehicles that lack characteristics like mirrors and other human controls.


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