The U.S. House approved a bipartisan bill that, if passed by the Senate, would create a federal framework for regulating self-driving cars and give companies racing to deploy the technology the ability to scale up more quickly.
The so-called SELF-DRIVE ACT would allow tech companies, automakers, and startups—a diverse group that includes Google’s Waymo, Audi, GM, Ford, Tesla, as well as startups such as Aurora Innovation, NuTonomy, and Drive.ai—to put as many as 100,000 autonomous vehicles on the road annually.
Current law varies by state. But in general, most states require self-driving vehicles to be equipped with steering wheels and pedals to control brakes and acceleration if they’re on public roads.
The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, an industry group launched in 2016 that wants to see the widespread deployment of autonomous vehicles, was cheered by the Wednesday’s vote.
“Self-driving vehicles offer an opportunity to significantly increase safety, improve transportation access for underserved communities, and transform how people, goods and services get from point A to B,” according to a statement by the group’s general counsel David Strickland.
Other organizations, namely Consumer Watchdog, said the “rushed” vote threatens highway safety and will “leave a wild west without adequate safety protections for consumers.”