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Google taps new lobbyist for self-driving cars

Google taps new lobbyist for self-driving cars
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Google has hired a new lobbying firm to work on self-driving car issues as the race to bring autonomous vehicles to the public heats up.

The tech giant’s driverless car program has hired Holland & Knight to help shape policies surrounding the “development, testing, deployment and regulation of autonomous vehicles,” according to lobbying disclosure forms filed this week.

The hire comes as the Trump administration is in the process of reviewing Obama-era driverless car guidelines, which established a voluntary 15-point safety checklist for automakers that were eventually supposed to go through the formal rulemaking process.

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The guidance drew mixed reactions from the industry, with some automakers praising the creation of a flexible national framework and other companies expressing concern that there may still be barriers to innovation.

Google has long been a leader in the self-driving car space. It recently spun off its driverless project into its own company, Waymo, which may launch a ride-hailing service.

But the tech giant has been facing increasingly fierce competition from rival companies such as Uber, which is currently engaged in a bitter legal battle over its autonomous vehicle technology.

Waymo is suing a former Google employee, who went on to found the now Uber-owned driverless truck company Otto, claiming that he stole Google’s self-driving vehicle sensor technology. Uber, however, calls the allegation “a baseless attempt to slow down a competitor.”