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Nicole Nason, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, said the DOT wants to protect the freedom of Americans “to make mobility choices.”

Legislation ‘inevitable’ Congress has considered weighing in on the burgeoning autonomous vehicle industry but failed to pass legislation last year. The House of Representatives went first, passing the Self Drive Act in the fall of 2017. The Senate companion piece was the American Vision for Safer Transportation Through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) ACT. “The legislation built on our existing regulatory framework to prioritize safety while also removing unintentional barriers to innovation in existing law, “ said Cheri Pascoe, senior professional staff member and investigator for the Senate Committee on

Commerce, Science and Transportation. “And that balance between safety and innovation is a key part if you are to allow innovation to continue to thrive while also ensuring the technology is safe and reliable,” said Pascoe, who led that bill’s development, speaking at the Automated Vehicles Symposium. As with the recent DOT moves, the legislation would have removed references to human drivers in some instances and leaned on industry to self-regulate and publicly report on safety data. “Overall, we’ve all had to force ourselves to think beyond the traditional 20th Century conception and regulation of a car. Yet that remains a huge challenge for many,” and the legislation was not approved, with the government shutdown not helping. Most bills don’t become law, and “AV Start Act and Self Drive got closer than most,” she said. “They also represented a rare glimpse of bipartisanship in Congress.” The legislation had a wide base of support, including from consumer advocates and disability advocates, but some highly publicized negative incidents didn’t help, “and some are struggling with the basic premise that we should be advancing automated vehicles.” Congress can’t be counted out, Pascoe said, because “as long as AVs are inevitable, I believe federal legislation is inevitable.”


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1 38AUVSI_HP_hor_171_45x114_Sept.indd | UNMANNED SYSTEMS | SEPTEMBER 2019

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Profile for AUVSI Unmanned Systems magazine

AUVSI's Unmanned Systems magazine — September 2019