By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration is set to unveil revised self-driving vehicle guidelines next week in Michigan, responding to automakers’ calls for elimination of legal barriers to putting autonomous vehicles on the road, sources briefed on the matter said on Tuesday.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was expected to unveil the revised guidelines next Tuesday at a self-driving vehicle testing facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan, four people briefed on the matter said.
A spokesman for Chao did not immediately comment. The White House Office of Management and Budget approved the undisclosed Transportation Department changes to the guidelines on Aug. 31, according a posting on a government website.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a sweeping proposal to speed deployment of self-driving cars without human controls and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles. The measure could help many automakers and tech companies keep their pledges of getting self-driving cars on the market by 2020 or 2021.
The House will vote on the bill under fast-track rules that allow no amendments. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators working on similar legislation has not introduced a bill.
The bill, passed unanimously by a House panel in July, would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year. Over three years, the cap would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually.
The House measure would require automakers to provide regulators with safety assessment reports proposed in the 2016 self-driving guidelines, but would not require pre-market approval of advanced vehicle technologies.
Consumer advocates have called for giving the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration quicker access to crash data and more funding to oversee self-driving cars.
Automakers and technology companies, including General Motors Coand Alphabet Inc’s self-driving unit Waymo, have sought easier federal rules for self-driving technology, while some consumer groups have pushed for more safeguards.
The Obama administration issued guidelines for self-driving cars in September 2016, calling on automakers to voluntarily submit details of self-driving vehicle systems in a 15-point “safety assessment” and urging states to defer to the federal government on most vehicle regulations.
Automakers raised numerous concerns about the Obama administration guidance, including the suggestion that automakers should submit systems to regulators for review before putting them on the market.
Companies including Waymo, GM, Ford Motor Co, Uber Technologies Inc, Tesla Inc and others are aggressively pursuing automated vehicle technologies.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by David Gregorio)