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US Senators Make Final Push to Pass Autonomous Vehicle Bill

As the end of the legislative year approaches in the U.S. senators are making a final push to pass comprehensive legislation for a regulatory framework that would accelerate the deployment and use of self-driving cars, reports Reuters.

With the goal of breaking a legislative stalemate over an earlier bill approved by the House in September 2017 but stalled in the Senate, aides of U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) have circulated a draft of a revised bill.

A key concern of the original bill has been whether the measure would limit the ability of companies to compel binding arbitration for consumers using autonomous vehicles, reports Reuters. The new draft limits the use of those clauses in death or serious injury crashes, while the bill that passed the House did not include the limitation.

Under the newly revised legislation, manufacturers would be required to prove that self-driving vehicles can detect not just other cars, but also all roadway users such as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycles.

The revised legislation also calls for additional reports of potential safety issues involving vehicles with semi-autonomous systems such as Tesla’s Autopilot and GM’s Super Cruise.

If the bill passes, it would relax a number of federal regulations pertaining to autonomous vehicles. For example, manufacturers would be able to gain exemptions from safety rules that require human control, reports Reuters.

Moreover, states could set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections, but not set performance standards.

While automakers have been pushing for the legislation for some time, getting approval in the final days before Congress adjourns is a long shot. Meanwhile, safety advocates have urged lawmakers in a letter not to rush the bill through on the grounds that the proposed legislations lacks fundamental safeguards, according to the report.

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