More and more automakers are seeking permission to commision autonomous vehicles on the road. Their goal is to increase their testing capacity in order to drive development & deliver the first self-driving vehicle to the market.
As we speak, companies are submitting proposals to the Trump administration which request additional autonomous vehicles to be put on the road. Under waivers from safety regulators, their aim is to get a hearing from at the Senate as early as this Wednesday.
We’ve covered some of the biggest players in this market not too long ago, but Silicon Valley continues to expand. Uber Technologies and Alphabet’s business units are developing entire campuses dedicated to self-driving vehicle development. Waymo, Google’s division of self-driving vehicles, is said to have closed a contract with Fiat Automobiles earlier this year. This partnership will dictate the development of autonomous driving technologies by these juggernauts. General Motors isn’t too far behind. Brand new offices have officially opened in the valley earlier this fiscal year.
Last tuesday, GM mentioned that it will pursue the expansion of the Bolt electric vehicles which will be equipped with a lot of driverless features. They currently have 50 vehicles in San Francisco which are under testing. Their plan is to expand their fleet to 180 vehicles by the end of 2017. Although Apple is primarily known for their computing tech, they’ve also confirmed the pursuit of self-driving vehicles. Tim Cook mentioned that autonomous systems are a core technology for the brand.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is able to deny those who aren’t following all the laws and regulations around vehicle safety. However, the only way to drive improvement in this field is to go through iterative improvements. In other words, it’s important to allow vehicles on the road in order to collect meaningful data and improve them based on real encounters.
The current vehicle cap for each large company is 2500. There is also a requirement to submit analytical data which demonstrates improvements of the vehicles on the road. The goal is to incentivise these manufacturers to keep improving safety.
Many of the aforementioned manufacturers are fighting an uphill battle with the Congress. Just like Uber did in the taxi space, they are trying to have fundamental laws completely altered.
Due to the lack of regulations, autonomous vehicles have very little standardization. Many developers are seeking a greater federal influence amid a flurry of activity at the federal level. They agree that it would be extremely beneficial to establish a unified set of regulations surrounding these technological advancements.
Only eighteen U.S. states have passed autonomous-vehicle legislations in the last few years. More than 30 bills have been introduced in 2017 alone; we are expected to see that number increase significantly in the following years. Just last week, Jay Inslee, the Washington State Governor, signed an executive order allowing self driving vehicles on the road.
Senators John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, and Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat, declared their common interest in working on a legislation aimed at autonomous vehicles. Thune mentioned that outdated U.S. vehicle laws fail to incorporate self driving cars and that there is a need to drive this technology to the masses. Based on their statements, this legislation should be passed shortly.
The aforementioned legislation will prioritize vehicle & driver safety. It will also remove some of the regulatory barriers, cover a wide array of technologies, have clauses on cybersecurity protection and clearly identify state and federal roles when it comes to overseeing certain implementations.
As John and Gary fine tune some of their safety clauses, they’ve released the guiding principles of their forthcoming legislation.
Members of the House Energy and Commerce committee aren’t twiddling their thumbs either. They are working on a package of bills aimed at self driving vehicles. These bills are scheduled to be released and introduced in the next few weeks. 16 bills total will be aimed at autonomous vehicles.
As we become more connected through IoT platforms, cybersecurity becomes a bigger concern for everyone. Democrat Edward Markey is working to establish regulations covering cybersecurity in driverless vehicles aimed at protecting drivers from such infractions and providing a platform to manufacturers to work with. He completely dismissed the idea of voluntary cybersecurity standards backed by the industry.