There seems to be a push for federal AV legislation as the GOP is putting a package of bills forward on this topic. Of issue for Urbanism Next topics is that the bills continue the national trend of dealing with AV regulation in terms of how to accommodate the autonomous vehicle and not on the secondary effects these vehicles will have on our cities. The GOP package is focused on how the vehicles themselves will be regulated and permitted – for instance, a draft of the bills have an exemption of up to 100,000 vehicles per manufacturer from federal motor safety vehicle rules.
A big question here is what role the feds and/or the states will have in regulation. A good argument can be made about the problems with a patchwork of regulations across different states that are both cumbersome to manufacturers and a burden for the states themselves to develop – especially with so many unknowns about how this technology will play out. National leadership makes sense, but we are in a strange situation where this technology is advancing very quickly and therefore giving the states the ability to work more nimbly at a more local level may be prudent.
Again – in relation to Urbanism Next concerns, we would not want to see federal regulations that limit states’ ability to create and experiment with incentives and potential taxation structures that will help promote community benefits. The goal is to make great places to live and to improve quality of life (and figuring out how AVs fit into that picture), not just to get AVs on the road.
(UPDATE: A more recent article tracking the mark-up of the package of bills is here)