Coalition Forms to Influence NHTSA on Rules for Self-Driving Cars

Ford Motor Co., Volvo Cars, Google, Uber Technologies, and Lyft, have formed a coalition to push federal action forward on self-driving cars.

The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets has a mission “to work with lawmakers, regulators, and the public to realize the safety and societal benefits of self-driving vehicles.” David Strickland, the former top official of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will be the coalition’s counsel and spokesman.

The coalition would like to see the federal government take the reins on a national standard for self-driving cars. The announcement takes place on the eve of Wednesday’s second of two public forums NHTSA is holding on its self-driving car guidelines. The forums will feature comments from tech companies and automakers at Stanford University.

Google, which has played a leading role in testing self-driving car technologies, has opposed California’s proposal to ban self-driving cars that do not have steering wheels, pedals, and a licensed driver ready to take over in an emergency. Google thinks California’s proposal falls short on allowing the technology to reach its full potential, and excludes those who need to be mobile but cannot drive – including elderly and disabled people.

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Google and its coalition colleagues are seeking to provide input that would move the technology forward. Ford said in a statement the group will “work together to advocate for policy solutions that will support the deployment of fully autonomous vehicles.”

NHTSA had yet to comment on the coalition. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind previously has said that policymakers should avoid a “patchwork” of state regulations on self-driving cars, but did not comment on California’s proposal.

Each of five companies in the coalition are working on self-driving car research and development. Uber has been testing a self-driving car in Pittsburgh through a grant-funded demonstration project with Carnegie Mellon University. Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick has said that when Tesla Motors’ vehicles become fully autonomous, he is interested in buying every one of them.

Earlier this year, General Motors made a $500 million investment in ride-sharing company Lyft. This partnership led to the formation of “Maven,” a personal mobility brand for U.S. car-sharing fleets.

Automotive News