Self-driving vehicles are on the verge of becoming mainstream, but a number of major automakers are concerned that unnecessary regulatory restrictions are impeding the speed of their deployment. Specifically, there are certain safety rules that many automakers believe self-driving cars should be exempt from.
Currently, all cars sold in the United States are required by the federal government to have steering wheels, for example. In cars with human drivers, a steering wheel has always been an obvious necessity. In fully-autonomous vehicles, however, it’s not clear that a steering wheel should be a legal requirement. That’s why automakers including GM, Toyota and Volvo are testifying in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in hopes of finding ways to reform these regulations for a new era.
Congressional officials from both sides of the aisle have reportedly been receptive to the idea of revising safety legislation to make certain exceptions for self-driving cars. To accelerate this process, the VP for global strategy at GM has argued that the US secretary of transportation should be given the power to grant these exceptions for highly-automated vehicles.
If Congress is able to fast track the self-driving vehicle safety exemptions, GM could begin offering rides in a fleet of autonomous electric Chevy Bolts almost immediately. GM has already partnered with popular ridesharing company Lyft to launch a pilot program for its self-driving fleet in one major US city this year.
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