The clock is ticking on a largely bipartisan piece of legislation supported by many automakers and tech companies that aims to speed the development of autonomous vehicles, clarifying regulations for such automobiles and preempting conflicting rules at the state and local levels. Under the proposed rules, companies would be allowed to deploy self-driving car fleets that wouldn’t be subjected to some of the same safety rules that govern human-driven automobiles.
The legislation – or something like it – would be necessary for something like the fully-autonomous GM Cruise AV that General Motors wants to deploy in rideshare and ride-hailing fleets starting next year. The car, first revealed back in January of this year, lacks driver controls like a steering wheel and accelerator/brake pedals, and is the first production-intent automobile without those inputs.
The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed one version of an autonomous vehicles bill that Bloomberg calls “unusually bipartisan legislation,” while the Senate is still working out the details of its own version. At issue is the upcoming midterm elections; any Senate version of the self-driving car bill must pass quickly enough after voting that the House and Senate still have time to negotiate a compromise version of the legislation before the end of the year.
After the year’s end, it will be a new Congress, and the U.S. House and Senate will need to start over with a new bill.
“This entire process has been an incredible feat of bipartisanship,” Greg Rogers, Director of Government Affairs at Securing America’s Future Energy told Bloomberg. “Attempting to recreate a bill that’s this ambitious and this significant would be like trying to catch lightning in a bottle all over again.”
If the legislation fails to pass and make its way to President Donald Trump’s desk for approval, General Motors might have to put off its plans for the GM Cruise AV, delaying the start date on a program that could help the automaker gather data invaluable to its autonomous driving technology development program.
Stay tuned for all the latest GM-related autonomous vehicle news.