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Google Pushes Congress for Self-Driving Cars

Written By, Mike D.

Last week in Washington, Chris Urmson, the principal engineer of Google’s self-driving car program, urged Congress to speed up the introduction of self-driving cars on American roads. 

Automakers and tech companies are chomping at the bit to develop and sell self-driving cars. However, they have complained that state and federal safety rules are holding them back from testing and ultimately selling these cars. In December, California proposed draft rules that would ban autonomous vehicles without human controls and a licensed drivers.

According to Urmson’s prepared testimony last Tuesday, he stated: “"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."

As a part of a broader effort to speed up the development of self-driving vehicles on U.S. roads, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it may waive some vehicle safety rules to allow more driverless cars to operate on U.S. roads.

In January, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the NHTSA will write guidelines for self-driving cars within six months.

Last month said the artificial intelligence system piloting a self-driving Google car could be considered the driver under federal law. However, more recently, the NHTSA said in a report there are significant legal hurdles to allowing fully autonomous vehicles without steering wheels.

Obviously, Google sees a huge opportunity and have stated that they want to offer fully autonomous vehicles for use on U.S. roads "soon."

Google’s recent self-driving car accident may or may not have had a recent setback when one of its self-driving cars struck a municipal bus in California. Google said it made changes to its software after the crash to avoid future incidents.