The excitement – and nerves – regarding self-driving cars is at a fever pitch with many believing the vehicles will be on the road sooner than we think. In an attempt to create a smoother ride for consumers and government agencies, ride-sharing company Uber recently announced the creation of a coalition dedicated to the technology. Along with Ford Motor Company, Lyft, Google, and Volvo Cars, Uber hopes to get the ball rolling ever faster.
Coalition Hopes to Influence Policymakers
The coalition, called Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, aims to push legislators to create and pass regulations in order for these cars to hit the market. In a statement, the group declared it will, “work with lawmakers, regulators and the public to realize the safety and societal benefits of self-driving vehicles.” All five of the companies are working on self-driving technology.
The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is aiming to gain more insight on self-driving cars in order to create guidelines for state governments to review. David Strickland, former head of the NHTSA, has been named the coalition’s spokesman and head counsel.
“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,” Strickland said on the forming of the coalition.
Current Regulations on Driverless Cars
Driverless cars are so new that many states do not have laws on the books regarding them. However, California recently announced its proposal to outlaw self-driving cars that do not have pedals, steering wheels, and a driver ready to take over in case of an emergency. Additionally, current federal law prohibits “fully autonomous vehicles without human controls.”
Fortunately for auto-makers and tech companies, the NHTSA recently stated that the artificial intelligence system that currently pilots Google’s driverless cars could be considered the driver under federal law. This alone is seen as step toward allowing the use of autonomous vehicles on the roads.
“1.3 million people die every year in traffic accidents—many of them young people. Self-driving cars can help save millions of lives as well as cut congestion in our cities,” Uber representatives said in a statement.
Will Consumers See Driverless Cars Soon?
The NHTSA stated that it hopes to have guidelines prepared by July of this year. It is hoped that these guidelines will influence lawmakers to pass legislation that will allow for fully autonomous cars to be on the streets. While it may be a few years until the cars are ready to be sold, it is hoped that during this time the appropriate laws will be enacted in order for automakers to sell their vehicles as soon as possible.
One of the first jobs for the coalition is to “work with civic organizations, municipalities and businesses to bring the vision of self-driving vehicles to America’s roads and highways,” according to a statement. Consumers ready to utilize the technology are encouraged to learn more and contact local policymakers in order to influence future legislation.