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Autonomous Vehicle Legislation Breathes New Life

There has been a renewed effort to update autonomous vehicle legislation that stalled at the end of the previous Congress. Six draft provisions are currently being circulated, which cover (1) Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, (2) Advisory Committees, (3) Autonomous Vehicle Testing, (4) Safety Standard Exemptions, (5) Definitions, and (6) Relationship to Other Laws. Notably, no language regarding forced arbitration has been released. The Senate’s previous autonomous vehicles bill—the AV START Act—would not have banned forced arbitration, which preventing the bill from moving forward last Congress.  

The AV START Act’s sponsors, Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and John Thune (R-SD), are working closely with the House Energy and Commerce Committee to make sure updated legislation is both bipartisan and bicameral. The House is working to update its own version, the SELF DRIVE Act, which is reported to be very similar to last year’s and includes a “Highly Automated Vehicle Advisory Council” within the Department of Transportation.

The updated legislation is expected to develop a Federal framework for autonomous vehicle technology and will address how Federal, state, and local governments will work together to implement nation-wide safety standards. Almost half of states have already implanted their own regulations governing the safe development, operation, and deployment of automated vehicles, which is forcing the Federal government to act quickly so that vehicles are held to the same safety standards no matter where they are in the country.

ASME will continue to monitor the progress of this issue and report any developments.

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