Senate hearing: Federal rules needed for driverless cars

Senate hearing: Federal rules needed for driverless cars

A recent Senate Commerce Committee hearing showed lawmakers and witnesses alike are concerned about the need for federal rules on autonomous vehicles.

Google, which has had a self-driving car project for seven years, is worried about the growing patchwork of state laws. In the past two years, 23 states have introduced 53 pieces of legislation on autonomous vehicles.

–If every state is left to go its own way without a unified approach, operating self-driving cars across state boundaries would be an unworkable situation,” said Chris Urmson, director of self-driving cars at Google.

Another witness, Mary Cummings of Duke University, spoke of the need for more research, testing and federal leadership before driverless cars are ready for public use.

–While I enthusiastically support the research, development and testing of self-driving cars, I am decidedly less optimistic about what I perceive to be a rush to field systems that are absolutely not ready for widespread deployment, and certainly not ready for humans to be completely taken out of the driverês seat.”

At the hearing, members of Congress expressed concern about the potential for cyberhacking autonomous cars. –One small defect could end up in a massive safety crisis,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA) advocated for national cybersecurity standards.

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