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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.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. (CIRA/RAMMB)

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.

Mike Allen, author of AM
7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.