Self-Driving Ruling Bill Stalls After Uber, Tesla Crashes
Self-driving cars have been happily puttering along for some time until recently, reassuringly waving off the few collisions that occurred because, after all, they were usually at low speeds and often caused by people rear-ending the meticulously law-following (and therefore granny-driving) self-driving cars.
Legislation was even in the works, having passed in the House of Representatives, to allow self-driving-vehicle-operating companies to work around normal safety regulations, which require mirrors and a steering wheel.
Not surprisingly, though, that legislation has stalled out in the wake of two major crashes, the first being the self-driving Uber that hit and killed a woman in Arizona that led to the suspension of the company’s self-driving operations and a thorough lambasting of the program. The second occurred in March, when a Tesla Model X crashed and caught fire while on Autopilot, killing the driver (which, while not a self-driving vehicle, is close enough to raise concerns, in that the vehicle crashed while control was given to the car).
Now, the legislation is facing heavy fire from safety advocates and reluctant senators, which are urging the supporters of the bill to slow and amend the measure.
Specifically, critics are concerned about the fact that the bill would step on state and local safety regulations, as the measure prohibits local regulations on the design, construction, software, or communication of self-driving vehicles, without establishing new rules at the same time.
Apparently, too, time is short to push the bill through, as the congressional calendar is already busy and campaign season is on the way, bad news for self-driving vehicle supporters, including many major automakers.