As autonomous car technology moves from a theoretical concept to a reality, lawmakers and government regulators are beginning to wrestle with the question of what rules are needed for this burgeoning industry.

States have debated laws, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has passed regulations. And now, Congress has held a hearing to study the issue, including no less than 14 proposed pieces of legislation.

Self Driving Legislation On the Hill

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee, and more specifically its Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, convened hearings on autonomous car technology.

The purpose of the hearing, according to a press release, was “ to discuss 14 drafts of self-driving legislation that will capitalize on this technology’s potential to save lives, clarify state and federal roles, and foster advancement in innovation.”

Mitch Bainwol, President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and John Bozzella, President and CEO of the Association of Global Automakers, both of which consist of several companies developing the technology, testified before the subcommittee. Also testifying was David Strickland, an attorney for the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets.

According to a Reuters account of the hearing, the members of the two parties “sparred” during the hearings, with Democrats calling for more aggressive safety standards from the NHTSA, with Republicans seeking to exempt up to 100,000 cars per year from the standards concerning self-driving cars.

 The Chairman Speaks on Self Driving Technology

“Last year there were over 40,000 fatalities and more than 2 million injuries on our nation’s highways,” Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), chairman of the subcommittee, said in a statement.

“Our goal today is to enact the right policies to encourage self-driving technologies that can drastically reduce those numbers.  We have a real opportunity to address this problem.”

The 14 Self Driving bills

The names of the 14 bills, as reported by; links are to the text of the bills:

1.Practical Automated Vehicle Exemptions Act

2.Improving Mobility Access for Underserved Populations and Senior Citizens Advisory Council Act

3.Let NHTSA Enforce Autonomous Vehicle Driving Regulations (LEAD’R) Act

4.Renewing Opportunities for Automated Vehicle Development Act

5.Expanding Exemptions to Enable More Public Trust Act

6.Maximizing Opportunities for Research and the Enhancement of Automated Vehicles Act

7.Increasing Information and Notification to Foster Openness Regarding Automated Vehicle Matters to States Act

8.Disability Mobility Advisory Council Act

9.Automated Driving System Cybersecurity Advisory Council

10.Sharing Automated Vehicle Records with Everyone for Safety Act

11.Highly Automated Vehicle Pre-Market Approval Reduces Opportunities for More People to Travel Safely Act

12.Guarding Automakers Against Unfair Advantages Reported in Public Documents Act

13.Managing Government Efforts to Minimize Autonomous Vehicle Obstruction Act

14.Designating Each Car’s Automation Level Act

Watch the Hearing

A video of the hearing has been posted here: