WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Bob Latta (R-OH), Republican leaders of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittees on Consumer Protection and Commerce & Communications and Technology, respectively, urged the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to expedite planned regulations for autonomous delivery vehicles capable of contactless deliveries.
In the letter, the E&C leaders said, “In light of the current pandemic, it is critical NHTSA prioritize this work because contactless delivery of medicine, food, and other necessities can help decrease the spread of disease by making it easier for customers to remain safely at home while receiving affordable deliveries. Occupant-less autonomous vehicles are designed specifically for contactless last-mile delivery. Autonomous delivery pilot programs are already underway in several states, including delivering groceries and packages in senior citizen communities to allow our seniors to remain safely at home, COVID tests at clinics, and meals to temporary hospitals.”
They continued, “The current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) were not developed with occupantless vehicles in mind. While requirements such as seatbelts, windshields, and airbags are prudent to protect the safety of passengers, they are unnecessary for a vehicle with no human occupants… If we fail to advance this technology here at home, we risk ceding global leadership to China.”
The leaders also spoke to the important work that has been done on the Energy and Commerce Committee to prioritize the development of autonomous vehicles. They said, “Our committee has been working for the past four years to create a national framework for the United States to lead the world in research, development, and manufacturing of autonomous vehicles. The Energy and Commerce Committee has held five hearings on self-driving cars since November 2016, leading to unanimous Committee and House passage of the SELF DRIVE Act in 2017. Although the Senate was not able to pass this legislation last Congress, we are continuing to work on the bill. E&C Republicans also recently introduced the ‘Advancing Unmanned Delivery Services Act,’ which would evaluate the many benefits of contactless delivery services using occupant-less and autonomous vehicles.”
Read their full letter by clicking here.
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