Autonomous Driving Sits Before Congress
Today the 116th Congress’ House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce is holding a hearing titled “Autonomous Vehicles: Promises and Challenges of Evolving Automotive Technologies.”
The results of the hearing have not been made public yet. But it’s sure to be pivotal for the future of AI vehicles. According to a memo released by the committee, the hearing will focus on the issues of driver and passenger safety, testing and deployment and cybersecurity.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, I welcome the feds jumping in to regulate this new facet of the automotive industry.
Safety is the No. 1 factor why autonomous driving appeals to so many people. According to that same memo, 94% of driving fatalities were caused by driver error in some way. That’s a staggering statistic.
I know AI-powered vehicles can’t bring car-related deaths down to zero or remove driver error entirely, but they could sure make a dent.
The congressional committee also brings up the point of cybersecurity, stating:
Cybersecurity has become a growing concern as vehicles have become more automated and interconnected. AVs [autonomous vehicles] are susceptible to both malicious attacks and unintentional network disruptions. AVs provide multiple cybersecurity vulnerabilities through connections to other vehicles, infrastructure, passengers’ devices, GPS systems and the internet. Since AVs depend on machine learning, data inputs such as traffic signs can be a part of the attack surface.
In the past, cybersecurity was never a problem with cars. I doubt there was any way to “hack” into my old 1987 Pontiac Firebird. In the future, autonomous vehicles will be susceptible to dozens of attack vectors. It’s up to both manufacturers and legislators to make sure that bad actors can’t make any future autonomous vehicles go haywire.
Up until now, autonomous vehicles have been in a bit of legal purgatory. Similar to the legal marijuana industry, legislators weren’t quite sure what to do with them. After today’s hearing, I hope we’ll get a better idea of how autonomous vehicles will legally operate in the future.
It won’t be a quick process. Nothing involving Congress is speedy. But it’s a step in the right direction. But, I’m sure there will be plenty of investable opportunities along the way.
I’ll be watching these developments closely. Stay tuned.
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