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Innovations are born of need. Motorboats were invented because people needed aquatic vehicles that moved faster and were easier to steer. Cell phones were invented because people needed a better way to communicate while on the move.
We’ve come a long way since motorboats and cell phones. Now, we’re on to high-tech creations, such as a cell phone app that can control the lights and thermostat in your house or a voice-activated robot that can order pizza for you.
While the pizza-ordering robot may have been born out of the non-urgent need for convenience, artificial intelligence can do some things better than people can. And when it comes to riskier activities, like driving, artificial intelligence is becoming a need.
Last year, 40,000 people died in automobile accidents in the United States alone. Yes, cars have gotten safer as technology has advanced. But about 94 percent of crashes can be attributed to human error. A case can be made for the need for self-driving cars, which could make calculated decisions in a split second on the road more efficiently than a human.
But one of the biggest barriers to getting autonomous vehicles on the road is government. Technology is advancing faster now than ever before. Many laws, from the municipal level to the federal level, were not written to accommodate much of the technology coming to the market today — especially not self-driving cars.
A new bill could set the stage for breaking these barriers. The AV START Act would clarify the roles of the state and the federal government in creating autonomous vehicle laws. The bill would also protect consumers and help jump-start what is sure to be an exploding industry in America not too far down the road.
The House also has a bill that would clarify the roles of the state and the federal government in creating autonomous vehicle laws. Called the SELF Drive Act, the bill would establish the first clear nationwide regulatory standards for these vehicles.
While this legislation isn’t perfect, it has the potential to help save lives on America’s roads and keep our country a technological trailblazer. Ohio Rep. Bob Latta recently pointed out that the United States will fall dangerously behind in autonomous vehicle standards and policies while China and Europe leap ahead.
Rep. Latta, who is also chairman of the Energy and Commerce Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, authored the SELF Drive Act.
An open-minded approach to internet regulation allowed the United States to become the tech and internet trailblazer that it remains. America must take the same approach to regulating autonomous vehicles.
Although the AV Start Act is just a starting place, it sets us on the right course toward improved safety and remaining the global leader in technology.