AP and Reuters

US House panel looks to revive stalled self-driving legislation -sources


Sensors are seen mounted to a self-driving Audi during a self-racing cars event in Willows, California, U.S., April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

A U.S. House of Representatives panel will hold a July 26 hearing as lawmakers look to jump start long-stalled efforts to pass legislation to speed adoption of self-driving cars.

The Energy Commerce subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce confirmed to Reuters it was holding a hearing titled “Self-Driving Vehicle Legislative Framework: Enhancing Safety, Improving Lives and Mobility, and Beating China.”

The panel will consider separate draft legislation from Representative Bob Latta, a Republican and Representative Debbie Dingell, a Democrat.

Legislation in Congress has been stalled for more than five years over how to amend regulations to encompass self-driving cars, including the scope of consumer and legal protections.

Advocates say autonomous vehicles have the potential to reduce traffic deaths, expand mobility access to the disabled, reduce the need for parking in congested cities and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and subcommittee chair Gus Bilirakis said in a joint statement that “inaction over the past two Congresses has put America at risk of ceding leadership in this industry to China. In order to ensure Americans can reap the benefits of self-driving vehicles, we must enact a comprehensive national law that establishes a pathway to safe deployment”.

The witnesses are expected to include Alliance For Automotive Innovation CEO John Bozzella, Consumer Technology Association CEO Gary Shapiro and National Federation of the Blind President Mark Riccobono.

Many lawmakers and the industry have urged Congress to act and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to develop a comprehensive federal framework for autonomous vehicles, warning the United States could lose the AV race to China.

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would soon decide on a petition filed by General Motors’ (GM.N) Cruise self-driving technology unit seeking permission to deploy up to 2,500 self-driving vehicles annually without human controls.

The February 2022 petition seeks government approval to deploy vehicles annually without steering wheels, mirrors, turn signals or windshield wipers.

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