Ford, Volvo, Google, Lyft and Uber are joining forces to push the U.S. government to pen regulation that supports autonomous vehicle development and deployment, according to a Reuters report. That’s good news for people yearning to be driven around by robots, because these are some seriously rich and powerful companies.
The partnership between the five corporations is called the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, and the new group says its purpose is “to work with lawmakers, regulators, and the public to realize the safety and societal benefits of self-driving vehicles.”
The spokesperson for the group will be David Strickland, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA—the primary U.S. federal automotive safety agency.
Five extremely well-off companies and the guy who used to hold the highest automotive safety office in all of the land? Clearly, this is going to be a very powerful special-interest group.
(And yes, this is the obligatory time in which we stop, pause, take a deep breath, and repeat the mantra of “REVOLVING-DOOR GOVERNMENT IS YOUR GOVERNMENT.” Now feel free to carry on.)
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NHTSA is in the process of writing rules and regulations governing self-driving cars, and Strickland, who left the agency a few years ago, plans to help shape that legislation. He says: “The best path for this innovation is to have one clear set of federal standards and the coalition will work with policymakers to find the right solutions that will facilitate the deployment of self-driving vehicles.”
Ford echoed Strickland in their statement, saying the companies will “work together to advocate for policy solutions that will support the deployment of fully autonomous vehicles.”
Reuters says the five companies, who have a vested interest in this policy since they’re all taking part in designing autonomous cars, will start their campaign by first “work[ing] with civic organizations, municipalities and businesses to bring the vision of self-driving vehicles to America’s roads and highways.”
The news site says there will be two public forums held by NHTSA on Wednesday discussing self-driving vehicle guidelines, and that the agency hopes to release new self-driving guidelines in July.
This is all a bit vague, and doesn’t really delve into the specific rules and regulations the new Coalition plans to tackle first, but it sounds like a good idea, as there are still tons of legal questions that still need to be answered before autonomous cars can gain a foothold in America. Who knows, maybe this group can help get these questions answered quickly. Then again, it’s the government; speed isn’t exactly in its repertoire.