US House sends self-driving vehicle bill to the Senate

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Reuters reported Tuesday that U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will unveil revised self-driving guidelines on Tuesday in Ann Arbor, Michigan, citing sources. It also bars states from preventing such testing, which many auto companies claim is critical to getting the vehicles to consumers within the next three to four years.

"As the Senate takes up its own bill, we urge members of Congress to work together, make critical improvements, and pass a law that would do more for consumers' safety and security on the road". The House bill only applies to passenger cars and light trucks.

Section 5 of the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In Vehicle Evolution - SELF DRIVE - Act states [pdf] that no highly or partly automated vehicles can be sold in the USA without a detailed cyber security plan. It also instructs NHTSA to develop new standards for self-driving cars.

President Donald Trump's administration is set to reveal modified self-driving vehicle guidelines next week in MI, in response to automakers' calls for removal of legal barriers to putting autonomous vehicles on the road, sources informed on the matter stated.

As self-driving technologies, and other autonomous features, have come to the forefront of the automotive industry, hacking has become a huge concern.

"With this legislation, innovation can flourish without the heavy hand of government", said Ohio Republican Bob Latta, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that developed the legislation.

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Advocates hope self-driving cars would help reduce United States road deaths, which increased 7.7 per cent in 2015, the highest annual jump since 1966. The issue has gained a sense of urgency after a rise of deadly crashes in recent years following a period of decline.

Naturally, companies like Google, GM, Ford, and Tesla are praising this new bill.

Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI) supported the bill, and said on the House floor: "This legislation and technology is indeed going to play a very important role in improving motor vehicle safety and addressing the rising number of traffic-related fatalities".

Safety advocates have raised red flags.

The House measure, the first significant federal legislation aimed at speeding self-driving cars to market, would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year.

Meanwhile, some consumer groups have sought additional safeguards. According to Rogers, this legislation strives to turn over the power to the cities and states so they can regulate, restrict, or reject self-driving vehicles within individual communities.

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