When Tesla’s Elon Musk tweeted that he expected to the company’s cars to be able to drive themselves across the U.S. from coast to coast within two years, my response was that I might believe the tech could hit that deadline, but not the law. It seems I may be wrong.
The WSJ reports that the Obama administration wants to invest $3.9B in crafting rules and policies to facilitate the rapid rollout of self-driving cars. This would take place at the federal level, ensuring consistent national laws rather than a patchwork of state-by-state regulations …
It’s not just a matter of permitting autonomous cars to use the road, there’s also the question of who is responsible if something goes wrong. At present, the driver would be liable in law even if they were effectively a passenger at the time. Companies like Google and Volvo have stated that they would want to be held responsible, but that would require big changes in the law.
The proposal requires congressional approval, so it’s far from a done deal, but it’s certainly encouraging to see at least the possibility of the U.S. government playing its part in bringing the tech to our roads sooner rather than later.