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A future where self-driving cars are more common than human drivers might not be as far off as you’d think — and somehow, it appears to be the one thing that Congress can agree on. The US House of Representatives passed the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution (SELF DRIVE) Act on Sept. 6, clearing the path for regulation of self-driving car manufacturers. The bill, which now needs to pass the Senate, includes several provisions that lift restrictions on self-driving cars.
The SELF DRIVE Act includes the following provisions:
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can now regulate a vehicle’s design, construction and performance, but still allows states to come up with rules on a self-driving car’s registration, licensing, liability, insurance, and so on.
- It allows the NHTSA to grant 25,000 exemptions to companies to put self-driving cars on the road, and gradually increasing that number to 100,000 exemptions in three years.
- Manufacturers are required to come up with a privacy plan that will let people know exactly how a company plans on collecting, using, and sharing the rider’s data.
The bill passed unanimously and with bipartisan support. “The future of the automobile is here and this bill will give the automotive industry the tools it needs to completely revolutionize how we will get around for decades to come,” Michigan Representative Rep Fred Upton said. Upton is right; Google first began testing self-driving cars in 2010 and on Sept. 7, ride-sharing company Lyft and and Drive.ai announced a partnership to start a pilot program of self-driving car rides in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee are also discussing and coming up with their own bill around self-driving car regulations. For now, you might want to reconsider that everything you thought was far off in the future may already be here.
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