Lobbyists are the invisible force in government. They represent companies, special interests, and other groups in an effort to convince lawmakers to make life easier for the people and businesses they represent.
Now a handful of companies – including self-driving car heavyweights Ford, Google, Lyft, Uber, and Volvo – that stand to benefit the most from the legal allowance of autonomous vehicles on US roadways are combining forces to form a super-lobbying group, and they are on a mission to educate lawmakers on the many benefits of driverless cars.
Few industries have as much red tape as the auto industry, and when you look at an emerging technology like autonomous vehicles, the delay between going to market and having the legal framework to operate across the nation is what will ultimately make or break that industry.
David Strickland, the coalition’s spokesperson, said “the best path for this innovation is to have one clear set of federal standards and the coalition will work with policymakers to find the right solutions that will facilitate the deployment of self-driving vehicles.”
Having Federal guidelines in place will certainly make lives easier for manufactures and developers of this technology as they will have less hoops to jump through on a state-by-state level. For example, a car that meets all the requirements in one state might fail in another, making it essentially illegal for the vehicle to travel autonomously between the two states.
Tech hub California is one of the tougher jurisdictions
One example of this difference in state policy can be found in Google’s own home state of California. Legislators there are proposing that autonomous vehicles would require steering wheels, brake and accelerator pedals, and other driver-accessible controls while Florida allows driverless cars to travel unoccupied across the state.
This legislation is not without even more local confusion as municipalities within California are already discussing adding fleets of driverless vehicles to their public transportation division.
The term “lobbyist” has been used in recent years to describe some of the more unsavory practices in corporate America, and often without reference to what exactly it is a lobbyist is fighting for. But in this case, we will actually get to see how these companies can affect legislation that will have a major impact on our lives in the not-too-distant future.