Congress Could Make Self-Driving Cars Happen—or Ruin Everything

WIRED, 15 FEBRUARY 2017, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:

CONGRESS JUST STEPPED INTO the robocar game. In the past two days, a pair of senators started drafting legislation to advance autonomous vehicles, and the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection held a two-hour hearing exploring how on the tech might be deployed. For your elected officials, it’s a considerable, if tentative, step into the future of transportation.

Of course, they’re just a bit late. Small numbers of robocars already roam the San Francisco Bay Area and other cities, and you’ll probably start riding in them within a few years as Uber and others commercialize the technology. Everything is racing ahead of a regulatory structure ill-equipped to usher in this change.

The nation’s patchwork of laws regulating this technology say nothing about how it is tested (or even defined), how cars using it will operate, or even who should settle these questions. Congress can address these all of these questions and ensure this technology succeeds.

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