Advocates push feds to speed up autonomous vehicle legislation
Automakers are pushing federal regulators to speed up plans to revamp the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to account for connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology, according to Bloomberg.
Their hope is to understand what will (and won't) be allowed on the roads when the current limited testing scales up to widespread implementation. Yet establishing consistent standards is expected to be a challenge given the scope of CAV technology's reach.
Legislation approved in July by a U.S. House panel would set a timetable for such standards while also allowing automakers to implement some CAV technology in the meantime.
Today, self-driving cars and other CAV technology is determined according to rules that vary by municipality and state. That is expected to make the eventual application of federal standards a contentious endeavor.
As Wired notes in its analysis of the current state of rules governing self-driving cars, federal regulations would supplant state and local policies. That could favor some states, such as those without CAV regulations, more than others, like California, which has invested heavily in being a proving ground for the emerging technology.
Small unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, face a similar predicament. Last August, the Federal Aviation Administration handed down its final rules on drone use for commercial operations, including construction job sites. The rules still pay mind to local and state laws around security and surveillance. And they don't answer every question but rather take the most common uses of small drones and apply a blanket approval. Operators are still banned — or must seek an individual exemption from the FAA — from activities outside the scope of the rules, such as flying at night or over people.
However, the federal drone rules were widely regarded as a major step toward greater adoption of the technology. The FAA is expected to expand the rules in the future.
As with drones, any federal rulemaking attempt for CAV is likely to be imperfect. That's in part because the research and development of the emerging technology is occurring faster than it can be considered and approved, or rejected, by regulators. Some level of standardization at this early stage stands to benefit the companies making the technology as well as the states and municipalities readying their roadways for it.