As reported almost everywhere, on Tuesday, March 15, Google told a Senate Hearing that Congress should pass legislation regulating self-driving cars. Google, through Chris Urmson (Director, Self-Driving Cars), explained that already there are 53 pieces of legislation in 23 states that relate to self-driving cars. Understandably, and predictably, these are not always consistent.
Google of course has its own preferences for what this legislation should include. For example, Google prefers that self-driving cars not have steering wheels or pedals. And, that passengers not be able to override a vehicles autonomous system. Certain states, like California, feel differently and have regulations at odds with Google’s preferences.
Whether the roads, and people, are ready for self-driving cars to be in mass use is certainly up for debate. Regardless, Google was joined by GM and Lyft in making the point that there should be one, consistent, set of regulations and laws. This makes some sense, but is it how things are now? Most states have their own rules of the road. States, notably California, even have their own emissions standards. Getting Congress to act on anything, let alone in an election year, may be a tall challenge – taller than perfecting self-driving cars for mass use.