July 4, 2020
By Colin Barnden
According to Google Maps the drive from San Jose to Capitol Hill is a little under 3,000 miles, so I can understand why the autonomous vehicle (AV) tech industry doesn’t pay much attention to policy and law making in D.C. – it is really far away. When I wrote that automotive is “a heavily regulated, standards-driven, functionally-safe mission-critical environment,” the tech bros in Silicon Valley probably thought that I was talking about Detroit, not them.
I guess any industry that develops a messiah complex and starts preaching about saving lives is probably heading for a fall, as events on “The Hill” this week suggest. If anyone in the AV tech industry has heard of the provisions for saving lives in the Moving Forward Act, they haven’t said very much about it publicly. Maybe they are still working through all 2,309 pages of the legislation.
You probably have better things to do with your time than read dense policy documents, so let us here focus on the juiciest sections of the legislation as it relates to the auto industry courtesy of Consumer Reports (CR); Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; the Center 4 Auto Safety; and an opinion piecepublished in The Hill.
As of this writing, the Moving Forward Act had passed the House of Representatives and moved on to the Senate. In comparison, the AV START Act – also known by its full and rather grandiose title of the “American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act” – has stalled. At a guess I would say maybe that is because safety and revolutionary technologies go together about as well as dynamite and matches?