by: Elizabeth Balboa, Benzinga Staff Writer
Autonomous vehicles surged ahead Thursday as lawmakers supported a one-year deployment of 25,000 cars exempt from certain federal safety standards. A U.S. House Committee voted 54–0 to send the revised bill to the floor.
“That’s a really big deal, because that’s a lot of cars, and the amount of insights they can gain from those cars is going to be significant,” Gene Munster, managing partner at Loup Ventures, told Benzinga. “And I think that they will quickly show how much safer these cars are than humans, which should pave the way for better, faster legislation changes that will allow this for everybody.”
The cap would increase to 100,000 vehicles annually over the next three years, according to Reuters.
The bill also charges the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with designing safety standards and prohibits states from imposing restrictive regulations. The precedent of approval is overwhelmingly positive for the industry.
“That’s really good news because that’s going to be the major sticking point around autonomy is legislation,” Munster said, noting that legislation will soon be a bigger hurdle than present technological woes. “Tesla Inc TSLA’s out with this stake in the ground saying they’re going to have fully autonomous cars by 2020, but the problem is the legislators won’t allow it. So any movement we can get at getting people comfortable that cars are actually better drivers than humans is important.”
The House Energy & Commerce Committee approved the bill July 19, and the forward motion bodes well for companies invested in the trend, including Ford Motor Company F, Alphabet Inc GOOG GOOGL, NVIDIA Corporation NVDA and Skyworks Solutions Inc SWKS.
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