The United States House of Representatives yesterday (6 September) passed a bill to set up a federal framework for self-driven or autonomous vehicles across the country. The Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In Vehicle Evolution Act or Self Drive Act, was passed with two-thirds majority and is now with the Senate, where it will need to be passed before becoming a law, reports Wired.
Republican Representative from Ohio Bob Latta, who heads the Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee said that the legislation would enable innovation to flourish with the “heavy hand of government”.
Autonomous vehicles have been on American roads since 2010 when Google’s vehicle made an appearance near Mountain View in California. However, in the absence of federal laws, the sector is regulated by various state level laws, each differing in their purpose, objectives and priorities. The lack of federal law acts as a major impediment to the industry as manufacturers want to make vehicles that can ply across all public roads across the country.
Autonomous vehicles have slowly gained importance due to the increase in number of road deaths every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, 94 per cent of the 40,000 road deaths in 2016 could be attributed to human error. The industry, which isn’t selling any vehicles yet, however has said that it is too early for stringent laws that could cripple its growth.
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