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US Subcommittee Considers Future of Autonomous Vehicles

The Congressional Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade said recently that autonomous vehicles will save lives on the highways, with Mark Rosekind, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator, claiming that autonomous vehicles hold “the potential to eliminate traffic fatalities altogether.”

The hearing was part of the subcommittee’s “disrupter series,” and Consumer Technology Association CEO Gary Shapiro said these technologies will be “very disruptive,” likening the situation to automobiles replacing horses as the chief means of transportation.

Not only will truck driving jobs be altered, but Shapiro added that mechanics, body shops and the insurance industry will also be impacted.

According to trade media, subcommittee member Brett Guthrie of Kentucky brought up the question of cyber security involving commercial vehicles.

Rosekind said that NHTSA had had several meetings with the Department of Homeland Security to address those kinds of issues.

Ranking member Janice Schakowsky of Illinois seemed to have some misgivings and asked for assurances hacking these vehicles would not be possible. She also questioned who was responsible in the event of a crash or failing of cyber security – the manufacturer or the user?

Rosekind suggested that a committee be formed to look at the liability issue and “the best way forward.”

Rosekind said although AV technology is moving quickly, there will continue to be a “mixed fleet” for the foreseeable future.

“For the next 20 to 30 years at least we will have a mixed fleet of different levels of automation and different people out there driving.”

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