WASHINGTON -- Autonomous driving technology moves fast. The federal government doesn't.
That's why automakers and technology companies are increasingly anxious for Congress to get moving on policies to govern the development and testing of the technology. They want to guard against a tide of inconsistent state laws, or a draconian federal response to a deadly accident, that could jeopardize their investments.
"A patchwork of different requirements across states is a recipe for delayed deployment, and delayed realization of the safety and mobility benefits of autonomy," Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, testified at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing last week.
Lawmakers are beginning to share that sense of urgency, now that self-driving technology is advancing beyond even the industry's expectations.
Last week, Senate Commerce Committee leaders released their principles for drafting legislation aimed at promoting autonomous vehicle innovation and safety. There are 16 bills in both chambers of Congress related to self-piloting cars.
But lawmakers and regulators at the state level have had a head start. Several states have issued rules or passed laws that govern the testing of self-driving vehicles or that codify definitions of autonomous vehicles. So far this year, 70 bills in 30 states have been proposed, according to industry lobbyists.