Google joins carmakers to push for speedy adoption of autonomous cars

27 Apr 2016


Google's self-driving vehicles division, along with other major carmakers and ride-sharing services, has joined hands to push lawmakers and regulators for faster adoption of self-driving car technology.

The five companies in the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets include Google's parent Alphabet, Ford, Volvo, and online cab-hailing networks Lyft and Uber. The coalition would lobby with the federal government to rationalise the "patchwork" of state driving laws that could hinder acceptance of autonomous vehicles.

The coalition will also coordinate with civic organisations, municipalities and businesses, "to bring the vision of self-driving vehicles to America's roads and highways."

"Self-driving vehicle technology will make America's roadways safer and less congested," David Strickland, the Coalition's counsel and spokesperson, said in a statement. "The best path for this innovation is to have one clear set of federal standards, and the Coalition will work with policymakers to find the right solutions that will facilitate the deployment of self-driving vehicles."

Strickland served as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) administrator from 2010-2014.

According to the US Department of Transportation, self-driving vehicles could significantly reduce the severity and frequency of crashes. The US recorded 33,000 fatalities of its roads last year.

"What people are looking for is clear rules of the road of what needs to be done for (fully autonomous) vehicles to be on the road," Strickland said in an interview yesterday, emphasising the companies wanted to deploy them safely. "Nobody wants to take a shortcut on this."

According to Strickland, who had advised Google on self-driving car issues, the group is "a full policy and messaging campaign and movement" and not just about lobbying lawmakers or regulators.

According to NHTSA, about 94 per cent of all traffic crashes were caused by human error.

The NHTSA will hold the second of two public forums at Stanford University today on its self-driving car guidelines that will feature comments from tech companies and automakers.

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