It looks like we’ll be riding in self-driving cars even sooner than we thought. A new alliance between Ford, Volvo, Google, Uber, and Lyft announced the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, according to a report from Reuters. The purpose of the coalition is to influence the U.S. federal government to do its part in regulations and laws to speed up the development of autonomous vehicles. And they’re getting busy immediately.
The announcement named former U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) head David Strickland as the group’s spokesperson and counsel. The NHSTA is the main U.S. auto safety agency creating recommendations on self-driving cars, so Strickland is a great fit for the role. Not only is he familiar with the personnel and workings of the NHSTA, he also understands its priorities and the influences on the agency. Strickland worked with Google before, advising on autonomous cars.
Strickland said that the coalition won’t be just lobbyists courting Washington, but will encompass policy, messaging, and influence to federal groups and beyond. “What people are looking for is clear rules of the road of what needs to be done for (fully autonomous) vehicles to be on the road. Nobody wants to take a shortcut on this,” Strickland said.
Car makers have already expressed concern that the federal government and politicians may be moving too fast. The concern is they could create laws and regulations without consulting with private industry players actively involved with developing self-driving cars. Today the NHSTA is holding a public forum on self-driving cars and guidelines in California. NHSTA is on a fast track to solidify its guidelines, with a plan to “release its guidance” in July to all involved, including private industry and federal and state governments.
Beyond policy development and bringing the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets’ own guidance to the NHSTA and other federal organizations, the group’s purpose is to, “work with civic organizations, municipalities. and businesses to bring the vision of self-driving vehicles to America’s roads and highways.”