Groups representing consumer, vehicle and mobility safety as well as public health advocates sent a letter Wednesday to Congress opposing efforts to attach autonomous vehicle legislation to any federal response to the coronavirus crisis.
The organizations — including the Center for Auto Safety and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety — cited a recent blog post by Republicans on the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
In the post, the GOP committee members said self-driving vehicles offer an opportunity to meet challenges during the economic and public health crisis, as consumers attempt to stock up on medical supplies, groceries and other items without exposing themselves to COVID-19. The post pointed to China's progress and said the U.S. needs a federal framework for autonomous vehicles to ensure its global leadership.
Automotive News has reached out to the committee for additional comment.
In the letter, the groups argued that the U.S. needs "tests, ventilators and personal protective equipment, not autonomous vehicles with unproven technology that do not meet baseline safety standards."
The groups said while Congress should set policy "to safely harness the future benefits promised by AVS," previous AV legislation, such as the Self Drive Act from the prior congressional session, and recent draft provisions fail to address key safety challenges, including vehicle crash fatalities and injuries.