Jul 31, 2019

Jump-start appears for stalled self-driving car bill

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Congress appears to be trying to revive efforts to pass legislation on self-driving cars, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Without federal standards, automakers and tech companies have to deal with a patchwork of state laws that they say is hampering the rollout of the technology. Consumer advocates want assurances that AVs are safe.

What's happening: Hope had faded for an AV bill anytime soon after Congress abandoned its efforts on the issue last December. "But a bipartisan contingent in both the Senate and House [has] held five meetings in recent weeks to see if they can forge a deal," according to The Verge.

  • In 2017, the House, with a Republican majority, passed the SELF DRIVE Act, but the Senate's similar AV START Act failed to pass after Democrats raised safety concerns.
  • The new bipartisan bill has input from both chambers.
  • The Energy and Commerce Committee said in a statement on Tuesday it is “committed to finding a solution that balances the American creative spirit with a clear federal framework that advances technology that will save lives, improve mobility for so many, and drive economic growth."

Go deeper

How the AV industry could implement and enforce safety standards

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

AV companies are wrestling with how to define and set safety standards, and at a recent symposium, a possible path emerged — even if the industry hasn't reached a consensus.

The big picture: NHTSA's voluntary safety self-assessment guidance applies to AV companies — but there are no mandatory safety standards and any future standards will have to define "safe enough" and also verify safety to earn public trust.

Go deeperArrowAug 16, 2019

Schumer, Pelosi demand McConnell cancel Senate recess to pass gun control

Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, President Trump and Mitch McConnell. Photos: Zach Gibson/Mark Wilson/Alex Wong/Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to return the Senate from August recess to "immediately" vote on a House-passed background check bill and send it to President Trump's desk.

The big picture: Pelosi and Schumer are putting the pressure on McConnell to respond to the weekend's 2 mass shootings, pointing to the fact that the House passed 2 gun-control bills earlier this year. Pelosi led a noon call with the House Democratic Caucus on Monday to discuss how to move forward.

Go deeperArrowAug 5, 2019

Conflicting road rules across cities could be a challenge for AVs

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

For all the concern over the patchwork of regulations governing AVs from state to state, a similar issue has been largely ignored: idiosyncratic road rules that vary not only state to state but also city to city.

Why it matters: Human drivers in an unfamiliar city will use their knowledge of familiar road rules to determine whether a right turn on red is allowed, for example. AV developers face a much bigger challenge: how to program self-driving software to ensure compliance when the rules of the road vary from one place to another.

Go deeperArrowAug 28, 2019