US makers of driverless cars must get past legislative speed bump

US makers of driverless cars must get past legislative speed bump

An Uber self-driving car travels down a street in San Francisco, California. AFP / Getty Images For US auto makers, hopes of overtaking the rest of the world in the industry’s Next Big Thing are riding on a piece of legislation that safety advocates say is flawed and endangers the public.

Technology giants such as Google and major automobile makers including Ford have invested heavily to create driverless vehicles in which control is effectively transferred from a human to a computer.

With other countries already well on course to introduce self-driving vehicles on public roads, the bill currently before the Senate would allow the same to happen across the United States.

Although 29 of the 50 states have enacted laws to allow the testing of self-driving cars on public roads, supporters of the technology believe that federal legislation is essential if such vehicles are to become a reality across the US.

The American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act — better known as the AV START Act — is before the Senate and does have bipartisan support.

Should the bill become law it would remove the requirement for vehicles to be fitted with equipment needed for human control of a car, such as a steering wheel. It would also decree that vehicle standards are subject to federal jurisdiction rather than being the responsibility of individual states.

This would pave the way for manufacturers to start building and selling the cars, given that owners would no longer face restrictions where they could use the vehicles within the US.

With Transportation Secretary Elaine Chaosympathetic to the proposals, getting the bill through Congress is the last legislative hurdle the technology faces. There is little doubt that Donald Trump sign the bill.John Thune, a Republican Senator from South Dakota and one of the sponsors of the […]

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