'Sweeping' House Bill Moves Self-driving Cars Forward

A Tesla Model S car equipped with Autopilot

A separate autonomous vehicle bill is in the works in the U.S. Senate, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reportedly announcing updated self-driving guidelines next week.

The House of Representatives just took a big step toward putting together the first set of federal laws for self-driving cars.

The legislation would allow up to 25,000 self-driving vehicles to be released onto public roads within the first year of enactment, and allow gradually allow a total of 100,000 vehicles within three years. Before the House vote, Ohio Republican Bob Latta, the bill's primary sponsor, called the technology "life saving".

Indeed, safety is a growing priority as today's roads become more and more congested. The bill, which had bipartisan appeal, now moves on to the Senate, where a bipartisan group is working on separate self-driving-car legislation.

Under the House proposal, states could still set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections, but could not set self-driving vehicle performance standards.

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Designers of self-driving cars have complained that the differing laws of each state have hindered the deployment of vehicles. A bipartisan group of USA senators working on similar legislation has not introduced a bill.

The bill doesn't apply to commercial vehicles, which were carved out after labor unions expressed concern that self-driving trucks would eliminate jobs.

The legislation supports new guidelines finalized August 31 by the Transportation Department for autonomous vehicle testing, which are set to be unveiled next week by U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao as self-driving testing site in MI.

Recode reports that while the Senate may struggle to find time to vote on its version this year, the Trump administration is expected to issue a voluntary safety checklist for automakers as early as next week.

Image: US House readies bill that will make it easy to deploy self-driving cars. Automakers would also be required to provide regulators with safety assessments, but unlike in the Obama Administration guidelines, makers wouldn't need approval of new technologies in advance. Those rules encouraged autonomous auto developers to make sure cars meet a 15-point checklist of safety expectations, and undergo regulatory reviews before hitting the market.

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