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US Congress Prepares For Self-Driving Car Vote

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Nissan conducts on-road autonomous vehicle testing in Europe

The technology leading to self-driving cars is developing at a neck-breaking speed, but testing these vehicles can be tricky. As it stands now, the rules governing how autonomous cars can be driven come from a patchwork quilt of state and local legislative agencies. Laws and regulations are inconsistent at best and total opposites at worst. The House of Representatives took the first steps towards bringing autonomous cars under federal jurisdiction this month, but what does that mean?

According to Reuters, the bi-partisan bill that passed through a House panel would allow developers to launch up to 25,000 vehicles on the road that do not meet current self-driving safety regulations for testing on the condition that they submit regular safety assessment reports to federal regulators. Over three years, that number would rise until hitting a 100,000 vehicle cap. Federal agencies would also set other rules around the cars, which would allow them to test around the country instead of only in states that allow it.

Representatives that have spoken to the media about this bill tout the possibility of American roads filling with self-driving cars in the near future and the possible drop in vehicular deaths and injuries. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group that represents auto makers, also told Reuters that “Congress can bring a host of benefits to Americans by helping to bring self-driving vehicles to our roads as quickly as possible.”

This all sounds bright and perfect, but we hope that this is not moving self-driving technology forward too quickly. We’re all for reducing car crashes and improving traffic, but if car companies and Congress are more worried about the speed at which these cars can dominate the road as opposed to how well they are tested, there could be an even bumpier road ahead. We shall see what happens if the house votes next Wednesday as planned.

News Source: Reuters