By on December 21, 2018

us-capitol, public domain

Frustrated with House Democrats’ inability to push through legislation on autonomous vehicle development and testing, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) believes the new Congress needs to reassess the situation and rally together behind a tweaked proposal Senate Republicans are still willing to back.

Dingell claimed Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who will chair the Energy & Commerce Committee when Democrats take control of the House, and Rep. Bob Latta, (R-OH), who currently heads the digital commerce subcommittee, have agreed the smartest plan is to build consensus in the Senate so both chambers can deliberate on the same bill — potentially getting something done in the process. 

“We will not reintroduce it immediately in the House,” she told Automotive News following Thursday’s vote on a funding bill that was intended to stop the government shutdown. “We’re going to have to figure out the common ground.”

Unfortunately, common ground within Congress appears to be increasingly difficult to locate.

From Automotive News:

Last year, the House unanimously approved the SELF DRIVE Act. But a companion piece of legislation, the AV START Act, stalled in the Senate for 14 months after clearing the Commerce Committee. The bills attempted to set rules of the road for development and deployment of self-driving cars. They included language to preempt states from setting autonomous vehicle design, construction and performance standards during testing, as well as grant auto and tech companies tens of thousands of exemptions from existing motor vehicle safety standards.

The current rules for autonomous testing are, in our estimation, pretty lax already. But automakers may need more freedoms to escalate progress to a point where they can meet their promised AV targets. Many companies claim they’d be able to deliver self-driving cars for the commercial market by next year, with consumer models following a year or two later.

However, safety advocates complain the bills do not hold autonomous vehicles to equivalent levels of safety as current standards, which is technically true. They’ve managed to garner support from a subset of Senate Democrats that managed to block the bill from being approved and, with more Democrats going into Congress next year, there’s little chance of that changing.

“Unfortunately, the AV START Act put industry’s economic priorities above public safety. Next year we will start over to make sure a new bill addresses the concerns of consumers and includes minimum performance standards, adequate funding and effective authority for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.” Joan Claybrook, former administrator of NHTSA and President Emeritus of Public Citizen, elaborated.

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17 Comments on “House Has a New Plan to Pass Self-driving Bill in 2019...”

  • avatar

    The appropriate performance standard for autonomous vehicles is that they do at least as well as competent, conscientious human drivers. That includes operating on snow covered roads where markings are obscured and unpaved roads which have no markings at all.

    What I fear is that the standard will be much lower. There will be many places AVs can’t go because of the absence of markings. On badly marked roads, good drivers will be killed because AVs make dumb mistakes that humans wouldn’t. Meanwhile, AV advocates will claim success because of all the texting drunks they save.

    • 0 avatar

      Having the car safely and gracefully avoid those situations instead would be reasonable.

      Driver: “Car, take me to Fargo North Dakota.”

      Car: “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that. There is snow drifting across I-94 Northwest of Minneapolis and I am not able to operate in those conditions.”

      Driver: “Just take me to Minneapolis, and I’ll drive the rest of the way.”

      Also, the car has to be able to safely stop and get out of the way of other traffic if it encounters conditions it can’t handle.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    People who are driven to work are voting on autonomous cars?

    • 0 avatar

      Keeps them from being unduly influenced by personally experiencing the realities of driving.

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        They should experience a Montana highway in a sideways blizzard – in a Camry – before being allowed to vote on autonomous cars.

        • 0 avatar

          One ride at night stands out….Bozeman to Billings….blizzard….following truck tracks….Montana doesn’t salt because it is cold enough to re freeze. I was in a rental Taurus….

          A recent drive in a Euro market Toyota Avensis showed that acquiring the lines is hit and miss, and not nearly accurate enough to drive by automatically.

  • avatar

    I thought democrats are for progress. Turns out all they care about is the status quo and boycotting new technologies, because of UAW? To make progress you must take risk. If NASA was as risk averse in 60s as it is not astronauts would never land on the moon.

    • 0 avatar

      Huh, I’m a tech/green enthusiast who cares about civil liberties (pro-legalization) and votes mostly Democratic. I don’t match your characterization.

      If you’re having trouble making sense out of what you think “Democrats” believe, perhaps you should check to see what what we actually believe?

      Hint: Democrats are not likely to vote as a block with respect to AVs, because it’s not a core issue. Everyone will make their own decision. (I expect Republicans would vote similarly because technology is not a core issue for them, either.)

      Personally, I find that keeping our society from squashing new technologies is *far* more important than any of the stupidfücking culture-war issues that take center stage in our system.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, but Liberals also against genetic engineering, colonization of Moon, new technologies like Facebook, Amazon, Google. Do you see a picture? So called neocons are for free markets which the only way to develop and balance things organically.

  • avatar

    Most of the posters here seem to be over 65. Have any of you lost your licenses yet, and have many members passed away? Self driving might be welcome for the elderly

  • avatar

    As with anything automobile related being discussed in the US Congress, follow the money.

  • avatar

    How much more money and r&d will be pissed away on this chimera before anyone realizes it’s the answer to a question no one asked.

    There’s already a self driving vehicle. It’s called a bus, and it sucks.

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