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Automated Vehicle Legislation: Competitiveness, Mobility, and Safety

Date: April 26, 2021

For years, the motor vehicle industry has collectively been advocating for Congress to act and pass legislation that would lay out a federal automated vehicle roadmap articulating specific state and federal responsibilities and providing greater opportunities for testing. We have come close to the passage of legislation, but it has never made it over the finish line.

Now an effort will be made to include targeted AV language in the Endless Frontiers Act, which is now making its way through the Senate. While this language will not address every issue the industry wants, it is a positive step forward that can help advance U.S. leadership in developing automated technology and vehicles.

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Congress has another opportunity to pass federal AV legislation.

  • A clear federal AV roadmap is necessary to continue the development and deployment of automated technologies.

  • Passage of federal AV legislation will improve safety and mobility for all Americans and allow the U.S. to maintain a leadership role in developing this technology.
     

WHAT AM I WATCHING FOR?

  • The Senate Commerce Committee will begin the process to review the Endless Frontiers Act and an AV amendment next week.

  • Will the industry get opposition to even a targeted bill?

  • Will opponents be convinced of the need to compete globally on automated technology?
     

AV and ENDLESS FRONTIERS - WHAT’S THE CONNECTION?

The Endless Frontiers Act is legislation aimed to dramatically increase our domestic investment in innovation and technology and the AV legislation fits perfectly. We know that the U.S. has a number of successful testing sites for automated technology. We know that many of our universities and technical schools have devoted significant resources to studying the benefits of automated vehicles. And we know that suppliers and vehicle manufacturers invest daily in the development and deployment of automated technologies and vehicles.

But we are losing ground. Germany, Japan, and Dubai are moving forward with AV programs that far outstrip our domestic efforts. Without focus by the U.S. government, the industry may choose other locations to test and develop AV technology and the U.S. will lose investment and long-term opportunities for our country.


BUT ISN’T AV A MOBILITY AND SAFETY ISSUE?

Yes! 94 percent of motor vehicle crashes are the result of human error. Legislation for AVs will go a long way to address this issue. Suppliers are key developers of the components and software for automated driving systems (ADS) that enable AVs. MEMA believes this can be done in a manner that protects the driving public while keeping pace with new and developing technologies. A clear path to deployment, including updating existing safety standards, is necessary, and a defined federal role for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will go a long way to do this.

Ultimately, a fleet of fully automated vehicles will also increase mobility for many Americans. 

 

WHAT ELSE ARE SUPPLIERS SEEKING?  

Suppliers need parity with the automakers on technology testing. The amendment to the Endless Frontiers Act would do this. Suppliers are critical to the overall development and refinement of ADS technology. If suppliers are not able to carry out this work in an independent manner, then it will impede and delay the evolution of the critical systems, artificial intelligence, human-machine interface, and other advancements that are needed to bring the vision of automated vehicles to fruition.
 

WHAT SHOULD THE INDUSTRY DO?

  • Become an advocate and text MEMA to 52886.

  • Contact your Senators and urge them to support including AV legislation in the Endless Frontiers Act.

  • Let us know your feedback!

 

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