Google, Ford and Volvo are joining ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber to lobby the U.S. Government to introduce laws and regulations that will accelerate the development of autonomous vehicle technology.
The group will operate as the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets and will be led by David Strickland, the former head of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In a Reuters interview, Strickland said the lobby group is looking for federal regulators and legislators to introduce “clear rules of the road of what needs to be done for (fully autonomous) vehicles to be on the road.”
As coalition member Uber is already well aware, legislators are often slow to react to technology as they try to apply legacy regulations to new tech and business models. Unlike the battle with the taxi industry, autonomous vehicle technology will require a more proactive approach.
NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind warned that government legislators should avoid “patchwork” regulations that vary across state lines.
Current state regulations are in conflict with recent federal rules. In February the NHTSA granted Google a “driver’s license” that interprets the driver of the vehicle to be Google’s Self-Driving System (SDS). That license applies to cars without a steering wheel or any other way for a human to interfere with the SDS. Those vehicles, however, are not yet legal. Some states, like California, intend to bar any attempts to legalize such vehicles.
This is the type of inconsistent regulation that the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets is hoping to persuade lawmakers to clear up and open the road for fully autonomous vehicles to reach the market. The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets says the one of the group’s first jobs is to “work with civic organizations, municipalities and businesses to bring the vision of self-driving vehicles to America’s roads and highways.” The group believes this will reduce the number of road fatalities and injuries of which, 94 percent are caused by human error, according to NHTSA data.