Google, Ford, Uber part of new coalition for self-driving cars

Google, Ford, Uber part of new coalition for self-driving cars
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High-profile tech companies developing self-driving car technology are teaming up with Ford and Volvo in a new coalition to press their case with policymakers.

David Strickland, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and now partner at lobbying firm Venable, will lead the coalition. Other members include Google, Uber and Lyft.

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The group — called the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets — will push for federal rules for self-driving cars. Companies in the field worry that a patchwork of state laws, rather than consistent standards around the country, would make it very hard to deploy the vehicles to the masses.

“Self-driving vehicle technology will make America’s roadways safer and less congested,” said Strickland in a statement. “The best path for this innovation is to have one clear set of federal standards, and the Coalition will work with policymakers to find the right solutions that will facilitate the deployment of self-driving vehicles.”

The Obama administration has already backed measures meant to make it easier for states to adopt consistent policies, including creating a template for regulators to use when they are considering the issue. But the companies want them to go further.

Chris Urmson, the Google employee who is leading the company’s self-driving car project, told the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this year, “We propose that Congress move swiftly to provide the Secretary of Transportation with new authority to approve life­saving safety innovations.

“This new authority would permit the deployment of innovative safety technologies that meet or exceed the level of safety required by existing federal standards, while ensuring a prompt and transparent process.”