Leading Members of the Automotive Industry Seek Federal Laws for AD Testing

Today, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee is hearing from several leaders of major automotive manufacturers to discuss the state of autonomous driving (AD), and some are requesting that the federal government intervene and stop states from mandating conflicting autonomous vehicle safety legislation. They reported in prepared documents that this is the biggest inhibitor of autonomous developments and regulations.

Testifying on this behalf are Mike Abelson, vice president of Global Strategies at GM; Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute; and Anders Karrberg, vice president of government affairs at Volvo Car Group; Nidhi Karla, Senior Information Scientist of RAND; and Joseph Okpaku, vice president of government relations for Lyft.

In Karrberg’s prepared witness testimony, he cites that after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) passed the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy (FAVP), a set of voluntary guidelines to automated driving (AD), states have been adopting their own modifications to the policy. “In just the last two months, over 48 AD bills have been introduced in 20 states … Thus, the U.S. still runs the risk of slowing down the development and introduction of autonomous driving technologies by making it difficult for car makers to test, develop, certify and sell AD cars,” he says. He also adds that NHTSA should request states refrain from making their own AD laws in an amendment to the FAVP.

Toyota’s Pratt shares those regards. “One of the most significant challenges that we face today with respect to the testing of autonomous vehicle technology is the patchwork of policy initiatives at the state level. More and more states are developing legislation and regulations that are unfortunately creating impediments to the development of autonomous vehicle technology,” he states.

And as the lines gray between driver and vehicle responsibility with AD technology, Pratt emphasizes this is where the federal government should step in, saying, “… we firmly believe that the establishment of vehicle performance standards for autonomous vehicle technology should take place at the national level.”

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