At least 4 U.S. state laws could prevent Uber, Google from operating self-driving vehicles

Uber test self driving

A series of bills presented in a minimum of 4 U.S. states– Georgia, Maryland, Illinois and Tennessee– would limit the introduction of autonomous vehicle technology on public roads to automakers– that is, companies that make automobiles.

As composed, the bills– modeled after the SAVE Act, Michigan’s pioneering self-driving automobile policies– would just allow a network of self-driving cars to operate on public roadways if the automobiles are owned by an automaker.

The draft bill being considered in Tennessee, for example, says: “Only motor vehicle manufacturers are eligible to participate in a SAVE project, and each motor vehicle manufacturer is responsible for the safe operation of its participating fleet.”

This indicates that companies like Uber or Alphabet– which owns Waymo, formerly referred to as the Google car project– might not be able to present their own self-driving vehicles in these states. Both companies are developing self-driving vehicle technology, but neither produces vehicles.

These bills mirror what was actually proposed in Michigan– the home of the U.S. vehicle industry– where there are now thorough laws on the testing and implementation of self-driving cars. However when later passed, the Michigan law consisted of new language that enables business like Uber and Google to introduce ride-hail networks of autonomous vehicles, as long as they either work with an automaker or get their prototype approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Up until now, the bills being proposed in these four states do not consist that language.

Who lags these limitations?

General Motors urged lawmakers to propose these regulations. Illinois state Rep. Mike Zalewski told that he proposed the bill after talking to GM. Same being done by Maryland state Sen. William Ferguson.

GM lobbyist Harry Lightsey rejected that lawmakers were proposing these laws at their request, but said the company supports them, due to the fact that public acceptance of the technology is going to be really crucial.

David Strickland, the general counsel for the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets– an organization representing Ford, Uber, Lyft and Volvo– and previous head of NHTSA, is opposed to these bills.

“It is our view that, if a state does decide to take legislative or regulative action with respect to AVs, such action must be premised on eliminating impediments to the safe testing or deployment of such vehicles and protecting a pro-competitive and level playing field,” Strickland stated. “We recommend that states focus on modifying existing laws and policies to understand autonomous automobiles.”

It’s unclear whether these regulations are going to pass, or if pressure from other companies will result in compromises.

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