The Congressional committee in charge of auto regulation is considering 14 separate bills right now to spur AV innovation balanced against public safety. That number of bills is not unusual in itself, but it highlights a couple things:
1) How quickly and thoroughly AV technology will impact American life. Daily commutes, road trips, transport, road design, sign design, workforce mobility, and so on.
2) That a key problem may be human drivers learning how to interact with AI on the road.
3) How the entire mentality of safety regs will likely shift away from design considerations. The federal government has been critical in pushing automakers towards safer designs for drivers and pedestrians, typically through industry-wide adoption of more expensive features - impact standards, the third tail light, uniform bumpers, removing hood ornaments, etc. But with the automobiles that will eventually eliminate human error, regulatory guidance that anticipates the inevitable collision will be anachronistic. The result is that "highway safety" may become less about physical well being and more about the social impact of disruptive transport technology.
This technology is transformative not only in terms of safety, but also increasing mobility options for underserved communities. In one exchange, David Strickland, spokesperson for the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, acknowledged that there are 36 million Americans in the disabled community, and more than 20 million are able to work but are hampered by mobility obstacles... Some legislators questioned the panel on the level of consumer confidence. While several surveys have shown the hesitancy of the public to enter self-driving vehicles, Bainwol offered the perspective that the more exposed to self-driving technology people are, the more accepting they will be. He said he believes that the most common exposure will be through ride-sharing services, such as Lyft, Uber, Maven and Chariot. “AV technology will be available in less than five years,"he said, "and ubiquitous within 40.”