Google, Uber, Ford, Volvo and Lyft form self-driving car 'advocacy' group. State and U.S. regulators seem poised to crack down on feet- and hands-free driving, so Google's gang wants to head them off.
Autonomous vehicles are likely to be a moneyspinner for the industry, so you can see their motivation. But it's easy to be cynical, given the fact that it's led by a former NHTSA honcho. Yes, the revolving door is alive and well in Washington, DC.
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What’s the craic? David Sherpardson reports—Google, Ford, Uber launch coalition:
They are forming...the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets...to push for federal action to help speed self-driving cars to market. ... David Strickland, the former top official of the...NHTSA, the [U.S.] agency that is [regulating] self-driving cars, will be [its] spokesman. [He] said the group is "a full policy and messaging campaign"...and not just about lobbying.
NHTSA did not immediately return a message seeking comment. [It] hopes to release its guidance...on self-driving vehicles in July. [It] has said policymakers should avoid a "patchwork" of state regulations.
Why now? I can't help thinking there's some background to this. Michael Wade says the group aims to promote federal self-driving car regulations:
California...proposed to ban Google’s Koala car that does not have a steering wheel. [But it] recently indicated it could...incorporate NHTSA guidelines into its regulations.
Follow the money. Shawn Knight moves in a mysterious, L-shaped way—to expedite the arrival of self-driving cars:
There’s billions of dollars...in the autonomous vehicle sector. ... The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets [is] a lobbying group for those who stand to benefit. [This] comes just one day ahead of the NHTSA’s second of two public forums [which] takes place on Wednesday at Stanford University.
The future lies in self-driving vehicles but [it's not] all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. ... I don’t think people are considering the ramifications of replacing modern vehicles with those of the autonomous variety.
Interesting to see Ford on that list. Mike Martinez told me something I didn't know aboutFord:
Ford has been working on autonomous vehicles for more than a decade. ... Its autonomous fleet of Fusions...have been testing in Michigan, California and Arizona. ... Executives have said they expect...a fully driverless car by 2020, but [not from] Ford.
There's one or two obvious names missing from the coalition. Roger Fingas fingers one: [You're fired -Ed.]
[It] may ultimately help Apple, which is believed to be working on an electric car. [It] may or may not be self-driving, but Apple is nevertheless believed to be working on [it].
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