The Autonomous space is becoming a reality, faster than we can imagine. An influential senate committee has passed a bill on a 54-0 vote to allow autonomous cars hit the roads. Though the bill has been passed but still there are few measures to be undertaken. According to the bill, each manufacturer can deploy up to 25,000 vehicles on the roads in the first year without meeting any current auto safety standards. Post which the permitted count will be increased to 100,000 year on year – over the next 3 years.
Congress has been making efforts to push the law enforcement forward under specific safety and “tech neutral” requirements. They have to still take care of cyber security, pre-exemption and safety. Automakers strongly believe that the Congress will likely be able to approve the legislation even before this year end. The Self Evaluation Act is supposedly allowing companies like Uber and Google to test around 1,00,000 vehicles in the city.
“Manufacturers must demonstrate self-driving cars winning exemptions are at least as safe as existing vehicles.”
Pre-exemption is technically difficult now, as some states wish to make it more strict when it comes to self driving rules. This is exactly what automakers don’t want, as this will increase complexities for the self driving car creators with different standards in different states. The bill also needs to define proper testing facilities and norms. States will take care of the registration and licensing. But in reality, every state in the US is bullish in introducing Autonomous vehicles, as it brings in tons of new business & jobs.
Believe-it-or-not: Already all the roads in Virginia are being fitted with special sensors that can communicate with Driver-less vehicles ( so testing gets more easy & hence the state can attract more companies to move in ). Mr. Terry McAuliffe the governor of Virginia said, “We’re gonna now do about 80 miles of roads that we’re going to put the sensors in,” further he added “All the roads we’re building now are gonna have the sensors for autonomous vehicles. This is the future.“. He believes that 75% of Autonomous vehicle testing will be taking place in these roads.
Cyber security is another critical factor, to ensure safety from hacking the vehicles. Though as Doyle,co-founder and co-chair of the robotics caucus, quotes “I believe in CMU team who have worked on these vehicles but the only way to ensure safety will be to have similar security standards throughout.”
U.S. representative, Fred Upton forwarded the legislation along with his colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Community. According to Upton “The future of the automobile is here and the automotive industry is completely revolutionizing how we will get around for decades to come,” said Upton. “Self-driving cars will play a critical role in Michigan’s economy and it’s important we have guidelines in place to help create jobs and boost our economy without sacrificing safety. This bipartisan legislation will allow self-driving car manufacturers to innovate while keeping gold standard safety levels in place.”
According to initial bill norms, authors wanted the automakers to take over and launch over 1,00,000 vehicles on road. But the only thing people were worried of was if all the safety measures were undertaken.
Note: There has been significant lobbying by car manufacturers like Volkswagen, Google, Tesla, General Motors etc. on the legislation to speed up deployment of Driver-less cars on the roads. Also the issue has been on top priority since stats showed the U.S road deaths rose to 7.7% in 2015, which is the highest since 1966. Also there has been rumors that even further delays in the required laws been made would get the manufactures to move the testing to other European nations & other countries.
In another note, Republican Tim Murphy said, “Pittsburgh has always been a national leader in research, robotics and innovation, and now we are continuing to push forward as the nation’s neurocenter for self-driving vehicles. In the city where this new and developing technology was first tested, exciting opportunities are emerging, specifically for populations that have been left behind by traditional public transportation,”