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Google to urge Congress to speed up adoption of self-driving cars

As seen on Reuters, the head of Alphabet Inc, Google’s self-driving car program, will urge the U.S. Congress on Tuesday to grant national auto safety regulators new authority. This will be done in the hopes that the new authority will help speed up the introduction of self-driving cars on U.S. public roads.

Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self -driving cars program, has prepared a testimony which he will deliver to Congress on Tuesday. He plans to tell the Senate Commerce Committee that legislators should grant new authority to the U.S. Transportation Department, this would help get fully autonomous vehicles on the road much sooner.

“We propose that Congress move swiftly to provide the secretary of transportation with new authority to approve life­saving safety innovations. This new authority would permit the deployment of innovative safety technologies that meet or exceed the level of safety required by existing federal standards, while ensuring a prompt and transparent process,” according to the prepared testimony.

The push for more authority seems to be coming at an odd time, as just last month Google’s self-driving car had its first, software related, incident. It’ll be interesting to hear what response the U.S. Congress will give Chris Urmson on Tuesday.

Back in December rules for self-driving cars were being drafted in the State of California, these rules would ban autonomous vehicles without human controls, like a steering wheel etc, and also require the person behind the wheel to be a licensed driver.

Needless to say Google was disappointed by California’s proposed rules. “If every state is left to go its own way without a unified approach, operating self-driving cars across state boundaries would be an unworkable situation and one that will significantly hinder… the eventual deployment of autonomous vehicles,” Urmson’s testimony says.

In another part of Urmson’s testimony he says that federal safety rules wouldn’t be needed with fully autonomous vehicles, like a rear-view mirror for example.

Regardless of if the U.S. Transportation Department is granted more authority or not by Congress, it will say a lot about where autonomous vehicles stand right now and how long it’ll really be before we start seeing self-driving cars on our roads. Let us know what you think.

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