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US Senate Panel Approves Self-Driving Car Legislation (reuters.com) 123

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill to speed self-driving cars to market without human controls and bar states from imposing regulatory road blocks. The bill still must be approved by the full Senate. The U.S. House passed a similar version last month unanimously. General Motors Co, Alphabet Inc, Ford Motor Co and others have lobbied for the landmark legislation. Despite some complaints from Republicans, the Senate bill does not speed approval of self-driving technology for large commercial trucks after labor unions raised safety and employment concerns. The measure, the first significant federal legislation aimed at speeding self-driving cars to market, would allow automakers to win exemptions from current safety rules that prohibit vehicles without human controls. States could still set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections, but not performance standards.
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US Senate Panel Approves Self-Driving Car Legislation

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  • by clonehappy ( 655530 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @05:23PM (#55311365)

    General Motors Co, Alphabet Inc, Ford Motor Co and others have lobbied for the landmark legislation.

    Enough said to know where I should stand on this.

    • Enough said to know where I should stand on this.

      That's a bit simplistic. Of course they would lobby for it. That by itself doesn't make it wrong. Sometimes the opposing side wants an artificial restriction. For instance, the labor unions opposed it because they don't want truckers to lose their jobs. Well of course that's what will eventually happen. But stopping progress to preserve legacy jobs is little different than extended government welfare. The people who would benefit (i.e. everyone else) are de

  • Is there really a need for self-driving cars? I guess the answer is yes if you stand to profit from removing the human element of your business. It's true that you can have self-driving cars delivering pizzas or Chinese food but what happens when there aren't humans to order these goods and services because no one earns enough money to buy them. I know that Uber and Lyft positively get wet dreams over not having to pay a driver and worry about said driver's reliability. But, what happens when there are few
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Is there really a need for self-driving cars?

      Yes. Human-driven cars kill 30K people every single year in the United States. That is like the recent Las Vegas shooting, two times every day of the year.

      Self-driving won't be perfect, but if it is a major improvement on human-driven, then yes, we do need this. It needs to be phased in and eventually legislated to outlaw the extremely dangerous human driven cars.

      It won't take that much to beat humans. It may not be immediate, but it WILL happen. That is a matter of when not if.

    • I guess the answer is yes if you stand to profit from removing the human element of your business.

      Wages are paid from revenues. Revenues come from price. Consumer buying power is increased by technology. Technology has a single purpose: reduce the working hours put in to get a particular result.

      Nations with a high standard-of-living and high GDP-per-capita are operating on high technical progress: they invest fewer labor-hours to produce the same goods. For example: poorer nations may invest 10-20 times the human working hours to produce the same amount of food, and must expend more of their in

  • unanimously approved a bill to speed self-driving cars to market without human controls and bar states from imposing regulatory road blocks.

    So, defacto unconstitutional, then.

    The federal government has no authority to bar states from passing laws for items not specifically named in the Constitution.

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      I'm sure they do it the same as always - suck great amounts of tax out of the states, then give it back (federal highway funds, etc) only on the condition that the states kowtow to the feds.
    • The Federal government effectively prevented states from setting speed limits above 55 mph [wikipedia.org] for a long time. Some of us had to suffer with that absurdity for fifteen years. Then an additional ten years to get things back to normal.

      So how did they do this? By tying it to federal highway funding. "Hey, state legislatures, that looks like some nice roads you've got there in your state. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to them because you lose your federal highway funding and are unable to
    • It is amazing how Republicans complain about Democrats passing laws that restrict "state's rights", but then do the same when they want.

    • That used to be the case until the definition of "interstate commerce" was expanded with the blessings of the Supreme Court to include pretty much any commercial activity at all
      • That used to be the case until the definition of "interstate commerce" was expanded with the blessings of the Supreme Court to include pretty much any commercial activity at all

        The ICC has certainly been abused plenty, but we have federal motor vehicle standards for a reason, and that reason really is interstate commerce.

  • Yesterday I asked some questions like:
    "Do they have any liability protections built in to the laws to protect the companies deploying these vehicles?"

    What are the Liability ramifications [slashdot.org]

    Today we have some answers, and one could maybe? think the public "IS" being used as test dummies ;)
    Who in the event of accidents, issues, problems "MAY" have to live with arbitration ;)
  • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @06:05PM (#55311627) Journal
    This is stupid, long-haul trucking is the industry that would benefit most from self-driving vehicles and it is also one of the easier challenges for the auto-industry. You can expect many states to start throwing roadblocks disguised as safety concerns that are meant to delay roll-out for the purpose of "saving jobs"
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      This is stupid, long-haul trucking is the industry that would benefit most from self-driving vehicles and it is also one of the easier challenges for the auto-industry.

      It is not time to have fully automated class 8 trucks driving around. They are just too big and thus too dangerous. Normally sized vehicles are dangerous enough. Give it a few more years, and you'll see similar legislation for heavy trucks.

      It is also not easier to do self-driving trucks, because they have to be able to handle all the same situations that self-driving cars have to be able to handle. Or have you never seen a person or a deer running across a freeway? How about stuff sitting in the road, like

  • Terribly Wrong Link (Score:4, Informative)

    by aneroid ( 856995 ) <aneroid@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @06:11PM (#55311659) Homepage Journal

    Did they even check? Obviously not.

    Here's the actual article: http://www.reuters.com/article... [reuters.com]

    • I'd mod you up if I had points. Not sure how they missed the link in the summary that leads to something Trump related.

  • by eepok ( 545733 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @06:13PM (#55311669) Homepage
    Here's the linked article: http://www.reuters.com/article... [reuters.com]

    I'm guessing that was a copy/paste error.
  • ... and bar states from imposing regulatory road blocks.

    Can we have a similar ban to protect health-insurance providers from regulatory road blocks?

    Unlike the transportation industry in general and the private cars in particular, health insurance is, actually, a disaster in need of addressing.

    What argument is there to justify prohibiting me from purchasing health insurance from another state, that would not also justify my state imposing additional requirements to self-driving cars?

    • Products that are sold across state lines are subject to regulations of the state they are sold in. Most of the insurance industry would likely move to the state that offers the most lenient regulations, just as credit card companies congregated to to South Dakota.
      • Most of the insurance industry would likely move to the state that offers the most lenient regulations,

        Except under ACA we have federal regulations preempting state. Tell us why insurance that meets the federal standards from a company in Mass., e.g., should not be available to someone in California.

        I heard this discussion on a talk program last week, and the person trying to defend state limits tried using the excuse that insurance from other states would probably not provide coverage for the providers in our state. I.e., the Mass. insurance would not have a provider network that included doctors in Calif

        • Except that every proposal put forward by Republicans that includes selling health insurance across state lines also includes provisions that gives states leeway to water down requirements and waken protections mandated by the ACA
      • Products that are sold across state lines are subject to regulations of the state they are sold in. Most of the insurance industry would likely move to the state that offers the most lenient regulations,

        Each state has its own laws regarding automobile insurance, and they apply to vehicles registered within the state. Insurance companies can be located anywhere, and it's quite irrelevant. You get a policy which is written for you, and it takes the state of registration into account.

        • Actually many health-insurance companies operate across many states just as at-insurance companies. Just like auto-insurance companies the products must be tailored to the laws and regulations of the state they are being sold in. What the Republicans want is in-fact to make selling health-insurance the opposite of car-insurance and subject to the rules and regulations of the state the Company is incorporated in
      • by mi ( 197448 )

        Products that are sold across state lines are subject to regulations of the state they are sold in.

        Yes, this is true about both cars (human or computer-driven alike) and insurance policies.

        Most of the insurance industry would likely move to the state that offers the most lenient regulations

        Yes, this is also true about car-makers.

        My question remains, if my state is disallowed to impose "regulatory road blocks" on sellers of self-driving cars, why is it allowed to impose such blocks on sellers of insurance?

  • across state lines? with differnt rules?.

    So what will happen with a car that is ok under sate A rules but not sate B rules?

    • What happens when a car without insurance leaves New Hampshire (where it is legal to drive without insurance) and enters Vermont, Maine, or Massachusetts (where it is illegal to drive without insurance)? The driver gets a ticket. I guess the only difference here is that instead of "the driver" it will be "the person responsible for the car"

      • And the ticket will be issued automatically when the vehicle crosses the state line. Fortunately, with our new self-driving overlords, the ticket will also be paid automatically (just like tolls) by the car when the citation is issued.

        Personally, I'd vote for cars that automatically stopped and refused to drive if there was no insurance policy registered against them. Bet we won't see any legislation like that, though.

        • Bet we won't see any legislation like that, though.

          Because it is not mandatory to have insurance to drive a car. To use it on the public roads, perhaps.

  • This will all fall apart the first time a wealthy white family loses a child to a legal self-driving truck.

    Mark my words.

  • Insurance? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thedarb ( 181754 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @07:10PM (#55311987) Homepage

    If I'm not driving it, it should only need to be insured against damage caused by others. If it causes an accident, that's the manufacturers liability, not mine, as I wasn't driving it. If it's any way made to be my liability, I'm not going to buy it. I'd rather hire a self driving taxi than own the liability of my own self driving car.

    • If I'm not driving it, it should only need to be insured against damage caused by others. If it causes an accident, that's the manufacturers liability, not mine, as I wasn't driving it. If it's any way made to be my liability, I'm not going to buy it. I'd rather hire a self driving taxi than own the liability of my own self driving car.

      Volvo, Google and Mercedes-Benz have all publicly stated that they will take full liability for accidents caused by their self-driving systems. I expect that this will become the norm, because it just makes sense. If the self-driving system is in control and makes an error that causes an accident, the system is faulty and not fit for its stated purpose, and the maker of the system bears the liability.

      However, I predict that many people will never buy a self-driving car. Instead, they'll go from owning a m

      • by crtreece ( 59298 )

        However, I predict that many people will never buy a self-driving car. Instead, they'll go from owning a manually-driven car to using a self-driving car fleet, on a pay per use basis.

        If manufacturers are taking on the liability for self driving cars, they are going to want control of maintenance, repairs, and especially modifications. They'll surely not want to be on the hook for an accident that could have been avoided with better maintenance or if the car had not been modified by the owner. I'm expecting manufacturers to either create a rental service (bonus points for the first one to call it Johnny Cab), or partner with someone like Lyft or Uber, so they have better control of ma

  • States Rights baby! Being protected by the Republican majorities in the House and senate.

If all the world's economists were laid end to end, we wouldn't reach a conclusion. -- William Baumol

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