An energy group comprised of retired U.S. military officials and business executives has come out in favor of removing regulatory barriers for autonomous cars at the federal level.
Currently, all autonomous cars on public roads must have a driver able to take over at any time, but federal approval of Level 4 autonomy would allow cars on the road without a human inside.
The group, called the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), claims that on top of lowering accidents on the road, autonomous cars may reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil imports.
92 percent of cars run on oil at the current time, but ESLC believes government intervention to help the rise of hybrid or fully electric cars could reduce that to 50 percent by 2040.
“Ultimately, we should allow Level 4 cars on roads as soon as they are as safe as today’s vehicles,” said Robbie Diamond, CEO of Secure America’s Future Energy (SAFE), of which ESLC is a division.
Driverless safer than “driverful?”
There is some evidence to suggest that autonomous cars are already safer than humans in cars, if we take the number of accidents per miles that Google has reported and compare it to human drivers.
States currently have different laws in regards to autonomous cars, some let Google, Tesla, and Uber test on public roads, but others continue to block access. ESLC’s call on Washington to change autonomy at the federal level would alleviate those issues, and allow cross-country tests.
The proposal from ESLC comes a few weeks before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) draft guidelines for deployment of autonomous cars. It is the first draft that could legalize autonomous cars on highways, similar to the UK’s recent legislative decision, announced during the Queen’s Speech.
Other lobbying groups in D.C. have pushed for relaxed regulations on autonomous cars, including groups backed by Uber, Ford, and Google. Millions have been invested, but so far we haven’t seen much progress.