Google Official Calls For Nationwide Autonomous Vehicle Regulations

Google's autonomous vehicle chief reiterated this week that federal authorities should establish uniform national regulations governing the adoption of self-driving cars.

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Google's autonomous vehicle chief reiterated this week that federal authorities should establish uniform national regulations governing the adoption of self-driving cars.

Chris Urmson testified at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's second and final hearing on autonomous technology Wednesday at Stanford University.

At the initial hearing in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, the Association of Global Automakers urged federal officials to develop regulations — a process that can take years — rather than simply issue guidance on self-driving cars to the auto industry.

Urmson, however, said this week that 15 states floated autonomous vehicle laws in the past year and echoed previous warnings about a patchwork of state regulations stifling self-driving cars in the U.S.

"Vehicle safety standards are not the expertise of the states and expecting them to take on this role will only lead to inconsistent safety requirements," Urmson said, according to USA Today.

Google this week joined automakers Ford and Volvo and ridesharing services Uber and Lyft to form the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets. Headed by former NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, the group will lobby for regulations that embrace driverless technology.

Proponents believe self-driving systems could eliminate the vast majority of crashes and related fatalities, but critics warned at the initial hearing that they currently can't handle rough weather, poorly defined lane lines or traffic directions from law enforcement.

Current NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, however, said at the Washington hearing that automakers need guidance to keep up with the rapidly advancing technology. The Department of Transportation plans to roll out nationwide standards for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles by July.

Urmson, at a Senate committee hearing in March, praised those efforts but said that the DOT secretary should receive broad authority to quickly approve emerging autonomous technology.

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