Capitol Correspondence - 03.26.18

Very Mixed Week for Self-Driving Automobiles

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On March 15, 2018, General Motors announced it was investing $100 million to upgrade Michigan facilities that would work on production models for its self-driving car, the Cruise AV. This means the company is getting ready to commercialize the Cruise AV starting in 2019, continuing to show how this is a fast-growing field.

While manufacturers have embraced the technology and state governments have been active on this issue, federal policy-makers’ enthusiasm may be harder to obtain. This is particularly so given a recent fatality caused by a self-driving vehicle Uber was testing in Arizona on March 19, 2018. While Uber has stopped live testing pending an investigation on the accident, the accident led 10 Democratic U.S. Senators to flag their concerns with certain clauses of the AV START UP Act in a letter to 60 self-driving car manufacturers. The Senators’ concerns predominantly center on ensuring consumers have access to legal recourses should they incur harm. Read the full letter here

The AV START UP ACT is currently up for consideration in the U.S. Senate, seeking to allow the testing and marketing of self-driving vehicles. It is the companion bill to the SELF DRIVE Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2017.  However, the Senate has made changes to its version of the bill, so should the AV START UP Act pass the Senate it would need to be reconciled with the House bill before going to the President. As of now it does not appear that there is enough momentum for the Senate bill to advance.

ANCOR continues to be interested in the potential of self-driving vehicles to assist people with disabilities and is part of the Coalition for Future Mobility. However, ANCOR is also committed to ensuring the safety of users as self-driving vehicles continue to develop.