This week, the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee signaled that they may be reviving efforts to pass federal autonomous vehicle (AV) legislation. In a letter to automobile manufacturers and other industry stakeholders, the Committees sought input on AV-related issues. The Committees indicated that they are working together on bipartisan AV legislation and asked for industry input by August 23.
Prior efforts to pass federal AV legislation have been unsuccessful to date. The Senate Commerce Committee advanced the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act in 2017. That bill died after the full chamber failed to take it up in December 2018, apparently due, in part, to concerns regarding privacy, safety and cybersecurity issues. Another bill, the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution (SELF DRIVE) Act, passed the House without opposition, but similarly died in the Senate in December 2018.
With this week’s letter, the Committees appear to be set to renew their efforts to try and pass AV legislation. Earlier this summer, John Thune (R-SD), sponsor of the AV START Act, said he is planning to introduce the same bill text previously approved as a basis for negotiation. The 116th Congress may be ready to take up AV in earnest after the August recess.