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House Subcommittee Weighs Automated Vehicle Bill

July 18, 2017

Photo of self-driving Ford Fusion Hybrid courtesy of Ford.
Photo of self-driving Ford Fusion Hybrid courtesy of Ford.

Members of a U.S. House subcommittee on July 19 will consider legislation that would consolidate federal regulatory authority over self-driving vehicles and restrict individual states from enforcing their own set of requirements involving the vehicles’ mechanical, hardware and software systems.

The bill would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to publish rules and safety priorities for highly automated vehicles and also require manufacturers to submit safety certificates for such vehicles. However, manufacturers wouldn’t need pre-market approval for the introduction of advanced vehicle technologies.

The bill is intended to clarify the federal and state roles for regulating highly automated vehicles, and to stimulate development and deployment of such advanced vehicles. States would still oversee such matters as registration, licensing, liability, insurance and traffic laws related to highly automated cars and trucks. But autonomous vehicle manufacturers would not have to deal with a patchwork of different state laws that have an impact on vehicle design and construction.

The Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, which functions within the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is scheduled to consider the measure on Wednesday morning. Members can submit amendments up to two hours before the mark-up meeting.

Additionally, the federal legislation would permit NHTSA to grant self-driving vehicles exemption from existing federal motor vehicle safety standards designed for traditional vehicles, as long as the agency deems such an exemption wouldn’t at all compromise safety.

The legislation would require autonomous vehicle manufacturers to submit a written cybersecurity plan that spells out vulnerability detection and response practices and identifies the managers responsible for cybersecurity measures within the company.

Moreover, the bill provides for the creation of an advisory committee within NHTSA to explore such issues as how self-driving vehicles can improve the mobility of disabled and elderly citizens and what countermeasures can be taken to offset job losses arising from future deployment of self-driving vehicles.

To download the bill, click here. 

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