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Ford, Google, others form self-driving advocacy group

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co., Google Inc., Volvo Cars, Uber and Lyft have formed a new coalition to urge lawmakers to take action on regulations surrounding self-driving vehicles.

The automakers, ride-hailing services and technology companies on Tuesday announced the formation of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets. David Strickland, former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will serve as its counsel and spokesman.

“Self-driving vehicle technology will make America’s roadways safer and less congested,” Strickland 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.”

The founding companies said they’ll “work with civic organizations, municipalities and businesses to bring the vision of self-driving vehicles to America’s roads and highways.”

NHTSA on Wednesday will hold the second of two public meetings in California on potential regulations for self-driving cars. The first meeting was held April 8 in Washington, D.C.

Government agencies have been increasingly working with automakers to speed along the development of autonomous vehicle technologies.

Last month, nearly every major automaker pledged to add automatic emergency braking on nearly every new vehicle by 2022.

NHTSA estimates that the agreement will make automatic emergency braking standard on new cars three years faster than could be achieved through the formal regulatory process. During those three years, according to IIHS estimates, the commitment will prevent 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries. It will reduce rear-end crashes 40 percent.

The automatic braking announcement was the first agreement that stemmed from a January collaboration between most of the world’s major automakers to collaboratively enhance vehicle safety efforts in the U.S.

Also in January, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a 10-year, $3.9 billion investment that would lay a framework for state regulatory laws and generally remove roadblocks and red tape that have stalled development of autonomous technologies in the past.

Government organizations like NHTSA have said they won’t institute a blanket federal law regarding autonomous vehicles, but rather leave it up to individual states. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind has stressed the importance of the technology, repeatedly saying it can eventually lead to zero traffic fatalities.

Ford has been working on autonomous vehicles for more than a decade. It recently announced it would double the size of its autonomous fleet of Fusions, which have been testing in Michigan, California and Arizona.

Blue Oval executives have said they expect someone to come out with a fully driverless car by 2020, but that automaker likely won’t be Ford.

“We believe fully autonomous vehicles will help people travel more safely and efficiently, as well as facilitate mobility for those currently unable to drive,” Ford said in a statement. “The Coalition will work together to advocate for policy solutions that will support the deployment of fully autonomous vehicles.”


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