Waymo: GM-Backed Self-Driving Legislation Creates ‘Unlevel Playing Field’

by abournenesn

Feb 20, 2017

Technology companies are playing a key role in the development of driverless cars, but several states are proposing bills that could ban them from testing on public roads.

Tennessee, Maryland and Illinois are considering implementing Safe Autonomous Vehicle acts, which allow only automakers to test autonomous vehicles, according to Automotive News. Waymo, the self-driving startup owned by Alphabet Inc., claims such restrictions solely benefit larger manufacturers.

“Just as Americans should have a choice in what car they buy, they should also have a choice to ride in safer, more advanced self-driving cars,” Waymo said in a statement, via Automotive News. “This kind of anti-competitive bill will only slow down the rollout of live-saving technology and create an unlevel playing field at the expense of consumer safety.”

The SAVe Act originally was proposed in May in Michigan, and drafted with the help of General Motors. It was signed into law in December, after revising the definition of the term “motor vehicle manufacturer” based on advice from Uber and Waymo.

The bills being considered in Tennessee, Maryland and Illinois reportedly do not include those revisions.

Tennessee state Rep. William Lamberth, a Republican, said he’s very excited about the prospect of driverless cars, as many of his constituents would benefit a lot from the technology. He reportedly said, however, legislators need to be careful the bill doesn’t open up a loophole for nearly anybody to try making an autonomous vehicle.

Ironically, GM claims that was the sole intention of the language it used in the bill.

“The definition of who ought to be deploying this technology is whoever is willing and financially able to stand behind the product they’re putting out to the public,” Harry Lightsey, GM’s director of federal affairs, said, according to Automotive News. “We’re open to how exactly to define that.”

The director of government affairs for Audi of America reportedly shares Waymo’s opinion, claiming competition is necessary when developing such innovative technologies.

Thumbnail photo via Waymo

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