The laws and regulations in place in the US for driverless vehicles are a mess, but Republican congressional members say they can fix it.
The congressmen hope to pass a bill scheduled to go before the House of Representatives this week that will allow carmakers to test and sell self-piloted cars anywhere in the US.
While congressional democrats have expressed concern over potential safety issues associated with the proposed legislation, the idea of creating federal laws that supersede the patchwork of different applicable rules and mandates in effect in different states has received bipartisan support.
The Republican-backed bill this week will mandate that all US states not only allow for driverless car testing, but would force states to green light the sale of vehicles that drive themselves. By allowing the sale of 100,000 cars per year per OEM under the terms of the bill, the US could see a radical jump ahead of the rest of the world as millions of Level 3 or more-advanced self-drive vehicles are sold there. Meanwhile, Level 3 driverless cars cannot legally be sold in retail channels anywhere in the world.
A main issue both Republic and Democrat congressmen and senators hope to resolve is that separate laws in place in different states are slowing down US competivity, Mitch Bainwol, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said in June.
As we meet today, the US lacks a critical uniform national framework to advance these technologies as was established before in the development of other key innovations. In fact, as other countries are moving to create uniform national structures, the US has been moving in precisely the opposite direction, and accordingly, risks falling behind in this highly competitive area.
Out of the 50 or so OEMs and suppliers vying for a foothold in the driverless transportation sector, only three or four will be left within a decade, John Hoffecker, global vice chairman of AlixPartners, a consulting firm, told the Automotive Press Association in Detroit yesterday. Many of the companies will separately invest billions of dollars that will be spent on "bets that were put in the wrong place," Hoffecker said.