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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In a renewed push to get an autonomous vehicles bill through Congress, Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) is reintroducing the SELF Drive Act Wednesday, Latta told Axios.

The big picture: New policy legislation is a long shot in the short Congressional calendar leading up to Election Day. But Latta's effort shows the importance many lawmakers put on promoting a U.S. lead in the development of self-driving vehicles.

What they're saying: "The technology is changing, and we don't want the Chinese to lead," Latta, ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce technology and communications subcommittee, told Axios. "We've got to keep moving on it for safety's sake."

  • The SELF Drive Act is a federal framework for autonomous vehicle regulation in the U.S., requiring cybersecurity provisions for AV manufacturers, exempting certain national safety standards to get cars to market quicker and pre-empting states from passing safety laws regarding AVs.
  • The revised bill contains some changes from a version that passed the House previously, including language that committee aides say makes it more inclusive for people with disabilities.
  • Latta said the coronavirus crisis has made the need for self-driving cars in the U.S. even more apparent, as people seek contactless ways to get around and have goods delivered.

Flashback: After the SELF Drive Act first passed the House in 2017, objections in the Senate over certain provisions doomed the effort to create a federal regulatory framework for autonomous vehicles.

Our thought bubble, from Axios transportation reporter Joann Muller: Congress has been talking about passing AV legislation for more than two years but hasn't been able to get it done.

  • Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation offers only guidance to companies developing self-driving cars.
  • Without federal standards, the industry is relying on a patchwork of state laws, and consumer advocates complain about safety risks of AV testing on public roads.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Sep 25, 2020 - Economy & Business

Eyeing the end of gas-powered cars

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Gasoline-powered cars may be going the way of the woolly mammoth, even if it will take decades to replace them and seems hard to fathom today.

The big picture: Internal combustion engines (ICEs) have powered automobiles for more than 100 years. But the shift to electric vehicles, slow to materialize at first, is now accelerating due to tightening government policies, falling costs and a societal reckoning about climate change.

Minnesota governor denounces alleged police violence against media

Law enforcement officers pepper spray freelance photographer Tim Evans (L) as he identifies himself a working journalist outside the Brooklyn Center police station on Friday. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Gov. Tim Walz (D) spoke out Sunday over allegations that journalists covering unrest in the Twin Cities suburb of Brooklyn Center have endured police violence, telling CBS Minnesota: "Apologies are not enough, it just cannot happen."

Why it matters: Since violations of press freedoms came to national attention last year, with reports of journalists being arrested and assaulted while covering anti-racism protests, violent encounters with law enforcement seem to have become the norm.

7 hours ago - World

In photos: Students evacuated as wildfire burns historic Cape Town buildings

Firefighters try, in vain, to extinguish a fire in the Jagger Library, at the University of Cape Town, after a forest fire came down the foothills of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, on Sunday. Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP via Getty Images

A massive wildfire spread from the foothills of Table Mountain to the University of Cape Town Sunday, burning historic South African buildings and forcing the evacuation of 4,000 students, per Times Live.

The big picture: Visitors to the Table Mountain National Park and other nearby attractions were also evacuated and several roads including a major highway, were closed. South Africa's oldest working windmill and the university's Jagger Library, which houses SA antiquities, were among the buildings damaged.