US president Donald Trump's administration has announced that it will unveil its revised guidelines on self-driving regulations early next week, following pressure from leading US car manufacturers who had requested the government to relax and eliminate legal barriers that prevented automakers from putting autonomous vehicles on public roads.
US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was tasked with the responsibility of reviewing the current laws and guidelines in relation to self-driving technology - and following an extensive consultation process with fellow republicans they're now ready to unveil the newly revised set of guidelines. According to a statement that was posted on a government website, the new changes tabled by the Transportation Department were passed by the White House Office of Management and Budget on August 31st.
It has been reported that the US House of Representatives will vote on what is believed to be sweeping proposals that support car manufacturers and would accelerate their efforts to develop and deploy self-driving cars without human control and also prohibit US states from blocking autonomous cars from being tested on public roads.
These whole-scale changes to regulation would enable both technology and automakers to deliver on their pledge to have self-driving cars on the US market by 2020 or 2021. It has also been disclosed that the House will vote on the bill under fast-track rules that allow no amendments. A source close to the House has also claimed that a bipartisan group of senators that was formed to produce similar legislation has not yet introduced their bill.
The bill tabled by the Transportation Department in July was unanimously approved by a House panel which enabled car manufacturers to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without having to comply with existing auto safety standards in the first year. In addition to this, it was claimed that over a period of three years the cap would increase to 100,000 cars on an annual basis.
The House has insisted within the new legislation tabled that automakers will need to provide regulatory authorities with safety assessment reports which were initially proposed in the 2016 self-driving guidelines, although it would not need pre-market approval of advanced vehicle technologies. Consumer advocates have stated that they believe the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should be provided with quicker access to crash data and given more funding to oversee self-driving cars.
However, leading US tech and automaker firms that include General Motors and Alphabet's self-driving unit Waymo have sought more relaxed federal rules in relation to self-driving technology, while to counter this some consumer groups have called for more safeguards to be introduced following the fatal accident involving a Tesla in 2016.