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Mike Allen Jul 19
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How Washington could stifle robots, drones, driverless cars

Jared Wickerham / AP

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee this morning will hold an unheralded but consequential hearing on a bill designed to both regulate and encourage the deployment of driverless cars ("highly automated vehicles," to Congress).

  • Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) says this is a rare bipartisan issue where you can protect consumers but also encourage innovation. Her district includes Ford HQ in Dearborn, plus auto plants, suppliers and R&D labs.
  • "Like it or not, this is coming," she told me. "It's exploding faster than we can promulgate regulations."
  • Drones and autonomous vehicles are among the technologies running way ahead of the appetite and ability of a dysfunctional federal government to regulate them, and this collision of technology and regulation is one of the new realities for Washington.