Google, Uber in coalition to promote self-driving cars

April 26, 2016
Google's Chris Urmson (R) shows a Google self-driving car to US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (L) and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt (C) at the Google headquarters on February 2, 2015 in Mountain View, California

Google and Uber are part of a coalition unveiled on Tuesday to push for a unified US legal code on self-driving cars as part of a broader lobbying drive to promote that technology.

Car makers Ford and Volvo along with ride-sharing start-up Uber's rival Lyft rounded out a roster of five founding members of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets.

Former US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator David Strickland was named as coalition counsel and spokesperson.

"Self-driving vehicle technology will make America's roadways safer and less congested," Strickland said in a release.

"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."

The US Department of Transportation has estimated that self-driving vehicles could help significantly reduce the severity and frequency of crashes, the vast majority of which are caused by human error in this country, according to the coalition.

"Self driving cars can help save millions of lives as well as cut congestion in our cities," an Uber spokesperson said in response to an AFP inquiry.

David Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on March 2, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington DC
"That's an exciting future, and one Uber intends to be a part of."

Google, Lyft and auto industry executives urged lawmakers last month to help create a regulatory fast lane to facilitate the introduction of self-driving cars.

In testimony at a Senate hearing, representatives of General Motors and auto-equipment maker Delphi touted what they said were numerous safety and environmental benefits of autonomous vehicles.

Chris Urmson, who heads the Google self-driving car project, said a consistent regulatory framework is important to deploying those technologies, and that conflicting rules in US states could limit innovation.

"The leadership of the federal government is critically important given the growing patchwork of state laws and regulations on self-driving cars," he said.

In the past two years, 23 states have introduced legislation that affect self-driving cars, "all of which include different approaches and concepts," he noted.

Five states have passed such legislation, all with different rules, Urmson said.

But the Senate panel should exercise caution, said Mary Cummings, who heads the Humans and Autonomy Laboratory at Duke University.

She said it's not yet clear that self-driving cars can operate safely in all situations.

"I am wholeheartedly in support of the research and development of self-driving cars," she said.

"But these systems will not be ready for fielding until we move away from superficial demonstrations to principled, evidenced-based tests and evaluations."

Explore further: Industry calls for fast lane for self-driving cars (Update)

Related Stories

Google gives federal plan for self-driving car

March 17, 2016

Google wants Congress to create new federal powers that would let the tech giant receive special, expedited permission to bring to market a self-driving car that has no steering wheel or pedals.

Recommended for you

Solid-state catalysis: Fluctuations clear the way

February 18, 2019

The use of efficient catalytic agents is what makes many technical procedures feasible in the first place. Indeed, synthesis of more than 80 percent of the products generated in the chemical industry requires the input of ...

Engineered metasurfaces reflect waves in unusual directions

February 18, 2019

In our daily lives, we can find many examples of manipulation of reflected waves, such as mirrors, or reflective surfaces for sound that improve auditorium acoustics. When a wave impinges on a reflective surface with a certain ...

Design principles for peroxidase-mimicking nanozymes

February 18, 2019

Nanozymes, enzyme-like catalytic nanomaterials, are considered to be the next generation of enzyme mimics because they not only overcome natural enzymes' intrinsic limitations, but also possess unique properties in comparison ...

Sound waves let quantum systems 'talk' to one another

February 18, 2019

Researchers at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory have invented an innovative way for different types of quantum technology to "talk" to each other using sound. The study, published Feb. 11 in Nature ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.