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Joann Muller (R) and Selika Josiah Talbott (L). Photo: Axios screenshot

A lack of federal policy has hampered the autonomous car industry's transparency with communities where the vehicles are tested, American University professor Selika Josiah Talbott said during a virtual Axios event on Tuesday.

What she's saying: "We need guidelines. Right now, it's like the Wild West. We need bumpers in place so we don't have rogue actions testing vehicles on the roadway and possibly causing harm to the general public," Talbott said.

The big picture: A patchwork of state laws on autonomous vehicles exists because "state by state, they have different implications for the use of their drivers license, for the revenue that these cities and governments get from our driving actions each and every day," Talbott said.

  • Although the federal government has said it doesn't want to impede innovation, Talbott said that "from one state to the next, we don't know who's driving these vehicles or having these vehicles on our roadway, we don't know the crash rate of these vehicles."
  • When driverless cars are tested in communities, people are often unaware. "We don't have PSAs out there, we're not informing the general public of what is happening in their neighborhoods and in their community," she said.

The bottom line: "When it comes to who should be acting and how they should be acting, we have a tug of war between localities and the federal government," Talbott said.

Watch the event.

Go deeper

California moves to phase out new gasoline-powered cars

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is issuing an executive order that seeks to eliminate sales of new gasoline-powered cars in his state by 2035, a move the White House said President Trump "won't stand for."

Why it matters: California is the largest auto market in the U.S., and transportation is the biggest source of carbon emissions in the state and nationwide.

Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Dominion files $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani

Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani on Monday seeking $1.3 billion in damages for his "demonstrably false” allegations about the company's voting machines.

Why it matters: Giuliani led former President Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the election and spread the baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion's voting machines flipped votes from Trump to Joe Biden.

Mike Lindell moves the goalposts on a run for Minnesota governor

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell waits outside the West Wing of the White House before entering on Jan. 15. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The will-he-or-won't-he speculation surrounding a possible gubernatorial run by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is destined to continue at least a bit longer.

What he's saying: Lindell told Axios that his focus is currently on proving his (baseless) claims of election fraud. He won't make a decision until that fight is resolved.