The U.S. Congress is Voting Next Week on the First Ever Autonomous Car Law

This "vote will pave the way for the safe testing, development, and deployment of self-driving cars across the U.S."

9. 1. 17 by Dom Galeon
Image by Volvo

Pioneer Legislation

Next week, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on and hopefully pass a bill that would make it easier for car makers to test autonomous vehicle technologies. The historic piece of would-be legislation has been aptly named the SELF DRIVE Act, which is short for “Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In Vehicle Evolution Act,” was approved by congress’ Energy and Commerce Committee this past July.

The bi-partisan bill proposes to allow car manufacturers to road-test as many as 25,000 autonomous vehicles within their first year of deployment. The car makers would then be allowed to increase this number over a period of three years, up to a maximum cap of 100,00 each year. Furthermore, the SELF DRIVE Act won’t require self-driving vehicles to meet current car safety standards.

The idea behind this proposed bill is to really speed things up for autonomous vehicle development, and Congress plans to fast track the bill’s approval next week by using rules that stop the amendments from being added. This “vote will pave the way for the safe testing, development, and deployment of self-driving cars across the U.S,” said congressmen Greg Walden and Robert Latta in a joint statement, according to Reuters.

In Support of Innovation

Because technology develops faster than political debate, it’s necessary for regulation to keep up. There’s no way around it. The government has to do its part to not hinder innovation. Federal legislation is a step in the right direction, especially for a technology like self-driving cars. A similar bill is currently in the works in the U.S. senate.


As various reports have shown, autonomous vehicles will save lives by eliminating the number one cause of road accidents: human error. Of course, regulation is just the first step. There should also be action, and the government can facilitate the development of autonomous vehicles by making sure that the roads are ready.

“Self-driving vehicles stand to make our transportation system safer and more efficient. Advancing this technology to road-ready requires government policy that encourages continued testing and development,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement. “This formula is the foundation for what makes America the most innovative country in the world.”

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