Just like it is with everything else, the pandemic is affecting the law-making progress as well. In order to fight and control the coronavirus pandemic, congress had to pause its progress regarding the regulation’s for autonomous vehicles.
As a result of this, the companies that were planning to launch their self-driving cars have to hold their operations as well. This serves to be no good news, as the current situation demands for vehicles that require no manual guidance. It is at this time that companies could have used autonomous vehicles for their delivery and shipment purposes.
While talking to The Hill on Wednesday, the director of Government Affairs and Mobility Innovation at Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), Greg Rogers said,
“Congress is rightfully and must be focused on the human impact of COVID-19, and I think that must be on the top of their mind, but the second should be realizing the human benefits that autonomous vehicles can bring,”
Before the entire coronavirus situation happened, things were actually working in favor of autonomous vehicles. The Senate Commerce Committees as well as the House Energy and Commerce was working on the draft and then further distributing it to various stakeholders to get some feedback. Furthermore, the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee has also confirmed that over 100 stakeholders had already contacted the committee and has asked them take some action. Later on, in February, the Chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce ensured the reporters that a rough draft of the bill is soon to be released. But the coronavirus outbreak happened, and everything had to be stopped.
And although people are still working on the bill and doing their research, the current Congress only has 8 months left in its tenure and that is not an enough time for the lawmakers to get the Congress to pass the bill and make it part of the law.
Surely all this could have been avoided only if the House and the Senate could have agreed on the legislation that the advocates had been working for 2 years and presented to the Congress for approval by the end of 2018. In the words of Greg Rogers;
“If we had passed comprehensive autonomous vehicle legislation in 2018 … manufacturers would have been in a much better place to deploy custom vehicles,”
“I don’t think that any serious person will say that we were 110 percent ready to respond to this, because we weren’t ready to respond across any sector, but AVs (autonomous vehicles) could have had a much better impact here.”
Now, the launch of self-driving cars in America has been delayed and this is further going to increase the tension between China and America as China is already on the journey of self-driving cars. In fact, it used these autonomous vehicles during the pandemic to sanitize their roads and streets as well as make deliveries. Regarding this issue, Rogers further said;
“If we want the next generation to be built in the U.S., if we want the U.S. to lead in transportation in the 21st century like we did in the 20th century, we can’t do that unless we get our act in order and modernize our regulatory structures, pure and simple,”