US House shifts self-driving cars into high gear with SELF-DRIVE act

Autonomous vehicle testing has been controlled by state guidelines, with California, Michigan, Arizona and others implementing AV testing rules via permits. One unfortunate side effect was the creation of a patchwork of state-by-state regulations that differed, and hampered testing and development of self-driving vehicles. The unanimously passed US House SELF-DRIVE act, along with the parallel Senate effort in progress, allows AV providers to circumvent current automotive safety standards and current state regulations, and to deploy up to 25,000 AVs in their first year and up to 100,000 in three years. Noticeably absent from the bill was any mention of self-driving trucks, an attractive area of development, given increasing demand and perpetual retention issues for commercial truck drivers.

The bill brings the US to the forefront of AV testing; however, it may trigger consumer concern that could come with malfunctioning immature AV technologies and the larger cybersecurity attack vector for hackers with malicious intent. AV providers still have considerable effort ahead of them before they can scale their infrastructures to support manufacturing operations for comprehensive deployments, but this deregulation provides financial, economic and technological incentives to propel their AV programs right now.

David Immerman

Senior Research Associate

Christian Renaud

Research Director

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