With concerns rising over the number and variety of state regulations, companies are increasingly looking to the federal government for guidance. Representatives from Google, GM, Lyft, and Delphi testified before Congress on March 15, urging Congress to pass a federal law concerning autonomous vehicles. While the passage of any federal legislation is unclear at this time, other parts of the federal government have been extremely active in recent months. In January 2016, the Obama administration proposed a 10-year, $4 billion investment in autonomous vehicle technology. In that same announcement, the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) committed to developing model state policy on autonomous vehicles in the first half of 2016. On February 4, 2016, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) responded to Google’s request for interpretation with a letter outlining NHTSA’s interpretation of the term “driver” as used in several Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (“FMVSSs”). On March 11, 2016 the DOT announced public hearings on autonomous vehicles to be held on April 8, 2016 and at one later date. Additionally, on that same date, NHTSA released a report from the Volpe Center analyzing how the FMVSSs would apply to autonomous vehicles. The DOT and NHTSA also released a “Policy Statement Concerning Automated Vehicles” updating its 2013 “Preliminary Statement of Policy Concerning Automated Vehicles.” The statement explained that, “[t]his is an area of rapid change, which requires DOT and NHTSA to remain flexible and adaptive as new information and technologies emerge.”
Daniel A. Crane, Kyle D. Logue & Bryce C. Pilz,
A Survey of Legal Issues Arising from the Deployment of Autonomous and Connected Vehicles,
Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mttlr/vol23/iss2/1