To be voted on Wednesday (September 6), the bill would bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles and allow automakers exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year. The initial 25,000 annual limit is reported to rise to 100,000 vehicles over three years.
The bill - which will be voted under "fast-track" rules that do not allow for amendments - was passed unanimously by a House panel in July, and reflects efforts by automakers and technology companies like General Motors and Alphabet's Waymo to pass new federal rules making it easier to deploy self-driving vehicles. According to Reuters, the companies hope that Congress will approve legislation before year end.
"Self-driving vehicles stand to make our transportation system safer and more efficient," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in a statement. "Advancing this technology to road-ready requires government policy that encourages continued testing and development."
Current federal rules bar self-driving cars without human controls on U.S. roads. And some proposed state rules, such as those in California, are seen as too restrictive by self-driving technology advocates. The House proposal would not allow states to set self-driving car performance standards, but would still allow states to set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance, and safety inspections.
The current bill would require that automakers submit safety assessment reports to regulators, but would not require pre-market approval of advanced vehicle technologies. In addition, manufacturers would also be required to demonstrate that exempted self-driving cars are at least as safe as existing vehicles.
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