Self-driving cars could be on the road sooner than you think

Eric Risberg | AP | BDN

The SELF DRIVE Act nullifies that problem, giving the federal government the ability to establish a national framework.

In a separate development, Reuters reported that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is expected to issue revised self-driving vehicle guidelines next week in MI.

The first federal bill on autonomous vehicle technology passed the full U.S. House of Representatives unanimously on September 6, 2017.

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"The Coalition is grateful for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's bipartisan leadership on the SELF DRIVE Act, and we look forward to working with members of the House and Senate to enact autonomous vehicle legislation that enhances safety, creates new mobility opportunities, and facilitates innovation", the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets wrote in a Wednesday statement. Before the House vote, Ohio Republican Bob Latta, the bill's primary sponsor, called the technology "life saving". The measure could help many automakers and tech companies keep their pledges of getting self-driving cars on the market by 2020 or 2021.

The bill (H.R. 3388), which now goes to the Senate, requires DOT to develop rules regarding self-driving cars sharing highways with standard vehicles. As per the bill, self-driving cars must demonstrate that they are as safe as existing vehicles.

Traditionally, the federal government has regulated vehicle safety, and states have handled vehicle operations, such as issuing driver licenses.

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The legislations is aimed at giving auto manufacturers an edge in developing and rolling out new self-driving vehicle technologies here in the United States, but the freedoms it provides may be a cause for concern.

The new parameters from the Trump Administration are expected to be a bit more lax than the initial ones set forth by the Obama Administration in 2016. While the House bill only accounts for passenger cars and trucks, the Senate bill could include driverless commercial vehicles.

For the first time, manufacturers will be required to have an official plan that addresses cybersecurity threats in their autonomous vehicles, an issue that should be of concern to anyone who is aware of the steep rise in black hat hacking in all internet endeavors in the past few years. Those rules encouraged autonomous vehicle developers to make sure cars meet a 15-point checklist of safety expectations, and undergo regulatory reviews before hitting the market.

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