It’s being claimed the United States is falling behind the UK, Germany, South Korea and Singapore in driverless car development because of a lack of federal legislation on the issue.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s report suggests that an absence of national legislation to clarify a “checkerboard of state rules” hampers their deployment.
“Global governments want their own national champions in developing self-driving cars, but they hesitate to put them on public roads because the technologies are immature,” says Bloomberg. “While different cultural and political systems have contributed to the differences in legislation, Asian countries overall are very aggressive in allowing AVs on their roads, said Alejandro Zamorano, a San Francisco-based BNEF analyst who wrote the report.
“In Europe, the U.K. is leading in shaping a conducive environment for testing, with four cities allowing public trials. France and Israel allow tests on their public roads on a case-by-case basis. As a result, both countries aren’t fulfilling their potential as hosts of large automakers and novel technology companies, according to BNEF.
“Germany may have created a framework for other countries. It allows testing with a driver’s hands off the wheel, but the carmaker is responsible for accidents if the system fails. Germany also has ethical principles in place that require car-driving software to prioritize human lives over animals and property.”
The report goes on to say, “The U.S. and Canada have basically separated jurisdictions between the federal government and the states or provinces,” Zamorano said. “It’s actually harmful to test autonomous vehicles because there’s no clarity on who’s allowed to do what.”
“To be sure, California is home to 52 autonomous car-testing programs, making it the largest open test ground in the world. The state adopted regulations for testing on public roads in September 2014, and an amendment in February allowed trying out the vehicles without a safety driver on board.
“BNEF expects the passage of the U.S. Autonomous Vehicle Start Act, currently in the U.S. Senate, to ignite a string of tests across state lines. Eighteen states currently don’t have any laws covering AVs. Yet lawmakers still are debating key components of the federal bill. It could force arbitration in the case of an accident, meaning the victim of a crash couldn’t participate in a class-action lawsuit against the technology’s maker.”