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New Self-Driving Vehicle Legislation Cruises Onto Senate Floor

October 2, 2017 by George A. Gasper, Partner | Lindsay M. Miller, Partner
New Self-Driving Vehicle Legislation Cruises Onto Senate Floor

Two United States Senators introduced legislation on Sept. 28, 2017 to address the rapidly approaching reality of self-driving vehicles on American roads. The American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act—or, more succinctly, the AV Start Act—paves the way for autonomous vehicles by establishing a regulatory framework to govern the development and implementation of this revolutionary technology. Like the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvements Act of 2017, which was introduced in the Senate in August, this latest legislative foray into the Internet of Things (“IoT”) is a bipartisan effort to get ahead of emerging technologies.

Interestingly, the AV Start Act largely mirrors the Self Drive Act, which the House of Representatives unanimously passed earlier in September. The next stop for the Self Drive Act is the Senate, and although it remains to be seen how the Senate will reconcile the two bills, legislative action in this arena should be guaranteed as the two acts are very similar. Both focus on encouraging innovation while prioritizing safety by defining the roles of various state and federal actors in regulating self-driving vehicles. As with conventional vehicles on the road today, the Department of Transportation would oversee manufacturers to ensure vehicle safety, while state and local authorities would continue to govern traffic laws, registration, and licensing. The AV Start Act also expands these roles by requiring these entities to modernize their procedures and standards to account for self-driving vehicle technology. The AV Start Act further enlarges the power of the Secretary of Transportation to temporarily exempt automakers from certain regulations if doing so serves the public interest.

With regard to cybersecurity and the IoT, the AV Start Act would specifically direct the Secretary of Transportation to oversee how manufacturers are identifying and addressing cybersecurity risks to self-driving vehicles through regular reporting. It also would establish a committee of experts, headed by the Secretary of Transportation, to recommend standards governing autonomous vehicles, beginning with the issue of data recording, sharing, and access. Interestingly, the AV Start Act would not apply to vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds, so buses and large trucks would continue to be human-operated for the foreseeable future.

Of course, Ice Miller will continue monitoring this legislation as it rolls along and additional updates will be published here on Ice Miller’s blog. Please contact George Gasper, Nick Merker, or Lindsay Miller, members of Ice Miller’s Internet of Things Industry Group, to discuss this development and how it could affect both your business and your commute.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.

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