Auto Alliance President & CEO Mitch Bainwol gave the following testimony before the House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing entitled “Self-Driving Vehicle Legislation.”
Excerpts of the testimony are below, and to download the full testimony click here.
As we meet today, the U.S. lacks a critical uniform national framework to advance these technologies as was established before in the development of other key innovations. In fact, as other countries are moving to create uniform national structures, the U.S. has been moving in precisely the opposite direction, and accordingly, risks falling behind in this highly competitive area.
The key question this Committee must ask is how to use public policy to optimize the safe deployment of these vehicles and their promise of social good, while continuing to let innovation spur economic growth?
It is critically important to expand the number and duration of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) exemptions that NHTSA can grant under the Safety Act. There are existing safety standards that serve as direct barriers to the deployment of self-driving vehicles. Without providing NHTSA expanded authority to grant exemptions from these standards, traditional auto manufacturers and other developers will not be able to deploy the technology at a scale necessary to collect more robust real-world data to inform future regulatory action. Given the lengthy rulemaking process, NHTSA should also initiate rulemaking to update these standards to remove the barriers for self-driving vehicles.
The existing FMVSS for conventional vehicles have served the public well. Because they were intended for vehicles with human drivers, however, they are ill-suited for vehicles with self-driving technologies. Alliance members also believe the process to modernize conventional vehicle FMVSS for self-driving vehicles could be informed by the data generated from increased exemptions.
By providing a uniform national framework to address concerns about the development of a patchwork of conflicting rules and regulations, the draft legislation seeks to better clarify federal versus state regulatory roles to facilitate innovation and the expeditious deployment of life-saving self-driving technologies. This will provide certainty for all stakeholders in this area and ensure that the United States remains the leader in self-driving innovation.