Advisory group on self-driving cars stalls under Trump

Advisory group on self-driving cars stalls under Trump
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The government’s council on self-driving cars, which was working to speed up efforts to bring autonomous vehicles to the road, has stalled under the Trump administration.

The Federal Committee on Automation held its first meeting on Jan. 16, with representatives from major companies including Apple, Lyft, GM and Ford.

But the council has not met since then and has no plans to meet in the future, two sources confirmed to The Hill, as first reported by Recode.

The committee hasn’t officially been scrapped by the administration, however it has no clear plans moving forward.  


Lyft noted that its President John Zimmer had left the committee “several months ago” and that “there had been no activity,” since the Trump administration took over.

A Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesman told Recode in July the agency is “still reviewing its options for how best to utilize the Committee going forward and on what specific scope the Committee should focus.”

DOT did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

DOT, however, told The Hill that it does still intend to release Obama-era guidance on driverless cars in September, indicating that the administration is still paying some attention to driverless cars.

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoWomen set to take key roles in Biden administration New administration, House turnover raise prospects for more diversity on K Street Reinvesting in American leadership MORE has also said that autonomous vehicles are a priority for her. Chao told the National Governors Association in February that “this administration is evaluating this guidance [on self-driving cars] and will consult with you and other stakeholders as we update it and amend it, to ensure that it strikes the right balance."

DOT’s slow pace on autonomous vehicles is a stark contrast to lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have advanced a bill in the House, which would make testing self-driving cars substantially easier.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which previously developed guidelines for autonomous vehicles, still does not have a new administrator, contributing to the executive branch’s lack of action on self-driving cars.

Trump has yet to nominate a replacement former NHTSA head Mark Rosekind.

NHTSA would be tasked with implementing any legislation that Congress passes on autonomous vehicles.

Lawmakers, including the top Democrat in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.), have urged Congress to wait to pass self-driving car legislation until the administration weighs in more clearly.

Melanie Zanona contributed to this story.

This story was updated at 7:14 p.m.