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Industry groups urge DOT to expand AV efforts, reform regulations

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WASHINGTON — The Alliance for Automotive Innovation and 14 other associations are urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to continue and expand efforts to support the safe deployment of automated vehicles in the U.S.

In a letter sent Monday to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the associations argue that implementing a federal framework for AVs can help the Biden administration achieve a “safer, more environmentally friendly and accessible transportation future” and is vital to maintaining U.S. competitiveness.

“As you told Congress at your confirmation hearing, U.S. policy has not kept pace with technology development,” the groups wrote in the letter. “Other countries are racing ahead to capture this new industry, set its standards and become the home of AV development and manufacturing.”

The groups also urged the department to continue identifying regulatory barriers to the deployment of AVs in the U.S. and accelerate efforts to mitigate or remove those barriers. That includes finalizing and publishing NHTSA’s final rule on occupant protection for automated driving systems.

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The rule — issued by the outgoing Trump administration and paused by the Biden administration — amends several crashworthiness regulations to clarify safety standards for AVs without manual driver controls. The rule also exempts from those crashworthiness standards AVs that are designed never to carry human occupants or drivers.

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“Currently, there is much uncertainty as to how the department intends to regulate AV technology in the near term as updates to existing motor vehicle safety standards are developed and finalized,” the groups wrote. “As the AV industry moves from research and development to deployment, we urge the department to use its authority to foster a pathway for near-term AV deployment.”

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