MLive: Self-driving vehicles legislation making headway in Congress
Congressional efforts to boost autonomous vehicles are gaining traction in the U.S. House and Senate with help from Michigan lawmakers.
Last week, the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Michigan U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and John Thune, R-S.D., to update current federal vehicle safety standards to incorporate self-driving vehicle technology. Fellow Michigan U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow is a cosponsor.
Peters' legislation, the AV Start Act, addresses cybersecurity protections and also calls for consumer education on self-driving vehicles.
Earlier this year, the U.S. House voted through the SELF DRIVE act, a similar bill that was cosponsored by Michigan U.S. Reps. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, and Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn.
The House legislation includes language pushed by Upton and Dingell to allow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration authority to approve additional exemptions for development and field testing of autonomous vehicles as long as safety standards are met.
In a recent interview with MLive, Peters said there's a "great deal of momentum" for laying a framework for self-driving vehicles in Congress and expressed confidence there was enough bipartisan support in the Senate and beyond.
He said setting up self-driving vehicle regulation is crucial to giving Michigan and the U.S. as a whole an edge when competing with other countries also working to develop self-driving technology, calling autonomous vehicles "the biggest thing since the first car came off the assembly line."
"It's absolutely imperative the U.S. be out front on this -- it's about our competitive advantage and about American jobs," Peters said.
Upton said in a statement following the House passage of the SELF DRIVE Act that Michigan's history in the automotive industry makes it a great location to develop the next new technology.
"This bipartisan legislation will help spur this new sector of our economy, creating good-paying jobs right here in Michigan and across the country," he said.
Peters' bill has moved to the full Senate for further consideration, and the SELF DRIVE Act is now in the Senate's hands as well.
President Donald Trump's administration has also expressed interest in autonomous vehicles, and top officials have used Michigan as a backdrop for announcing policy changes in that arena.
In September, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao visited the University of Michigan's Mcity testing track to introduce the Department of Transportation's new guidelines for self-driving vehicle technology.
"As the technology advances and the department gathers new and more information from stakeholders and consumers, we will continue to refine and update this guidance," Chao said during brief remarks at the event.
The American Center for Mobility, an autonomous and connected vehicle testing facility funded by state and economic groups, broke ground last year in Ypsilanti Township.
The testing facility is under construction on the former Willow Run site, about 10 miles outside of Ann Arbor, near the Willow Run Airport and the Yankee Air Museum.
By: Lauren Gibbons
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