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House Republican introduces legislation to set standards for self-driving cars

House Republican introduces legislation to set standards for self-driving cars
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Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) on Wednesday introduced legislation to set standards for the safety and security of autonomous vehicles.

The Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution Act, or Self Drive Act, would provide standards for the testing and deployment of self-driving cars — including those on cybersecurity — along with improving the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) ability to adapt federal driving regulations to autonomous vehicles.

Latta, who serves as the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, along with Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHillicon Valley: Leadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns | Snapchat launches in-app video platform 'Spotlight' | Uber, Lyft awarded federal transportation contract Lawmakers urge FCC to assist in effort to rip out, replace suspect network equipment OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (R-Ore.) on Wednesday pointed to the legislation as necessary for the U.S. to win the “global race” on autonomous vehicles (AVs).

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“There is a clear global race to AVs and for the U.S. to win that race, Congress must act to create a national framework that provides developers certainty and a clear path to deployment,” Latta and Walden said in a joint statement. “From increasing mobility for seniors and self-sufficiency for those with disabilities to providing contactless deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic, AVs have limitless potential to drastically improve the lives of Americans.”

“We cannot allow the U.S. to be outpaced and this effort strikes a critical balance of ensuring safe development and deployment of AVs while keeping the U.S. at the forefront,” they added. 

The bill was previously passed by the House unanimously in 2017 but stalled out in the Senate during the last Congress, along with a similar Senate bill, due to opposition by a group of Democrats over safety and security language in the bills. 

According to Axios, which first reported the bill’s introduction, the new version of the Self Drive Act contains changes to language that make self-driving car standards more inclusive for those with disabilities. 

The version of the Self Drive Act passed by the House in 2017 was co-sponsored by almost a dozen Democrats, but no Democrats signed on to the new bill. 

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“Unsurprisingly, House Democrats have yet again put politics over progress,” Latta and Walden said Wednesday. “Last Congress, every single Republican and Democrat on our great committee supported AV legislation, which the House then passed unanimously. Unfortunately, while Republicans have repeatedly tried to come to the table this Congress, Democrats have continued to put the monetary interests of the trial bar ahead of the American people.” 

While the bill’s chances of being signed into law during election season and close to the end of the current Congress are slim, Latta and Walden were hopeful progress could be made on self-driving cars. 

“We hope this bill can move through the legislative process, because if we don’t write the rules of the road when it comes to AVs, China will,” the lawmakers said.