An influential U.S. House committee has approved a revised bipartisan bill on a 54-0 vote, Reuters reported. The bill aims to speed up the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles.
The full U.S. House of Representatives will take up the bill when it reconvenes in September after the summer recess. The bill is passed would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year, a cap that would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually over three years. Initially, it was proposed to allow automakers and others to sell up to 100,000 vehicles immediately.
The proposal bars states from imposing driverless car rules. The states could still set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance, and safety inspections, but could not set self-driving car performance standards, according to the proposal.
The proposal requires the automakers to submit safety assessment reports to U.S. regulators, but there is no pre-market approval of advanced vehicle technologies. To get the exemptions the automakers would have to show that the self-driving cars “function as intended and contain fail safe features”. Transportation Department could not “condition deployment or testing of highly automated vehicles on review of safety assessment certifications.
Automakers, as well as technology companies, were lobbying Congress for a long time to pre-empt rules under consideration in California and other states that could limit self-driving vehicle deployment. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group has expressed its pleasure on the legislation moving forward and said it expects to see areas fine-tuned in the legislation.