Rules For Driverless Vehicles

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WISH- Would you ever get behind the wheel of a driverless car? Would you let one chauffeur you around?

That might seem far-fetched right now, but Indiana lawmakers are already paving the way for driverless vehicles, beginning at the Statehouse.

Companies already have permits to test driverless cars on public roads and highways in California. But could Indiana be next?

State Senator Jim Merritt, an Indianapolis Republican and member of the Legislative Transportation Committee said “There are so many people who are behind the idea of autonomous vehicles, that we have to create a framework in state government to allow them.”

Which is where State Representative, Ed Soliday’s driverless vehicles bill comes in. The Valparaiso Republican’s bill already passed both chambers.

Soliday explained “It encourages testing and research in Indiana on autonomous vehicles but at the same time, assures public safety.”

Soliday claims 75% of Americans say they’re afraid of driverless vehicles. Still, Soliday points to mobility benefits for the blind, a leg up for truckers, and possible traffic reduction. But, he said there are no Federal standards for driverless vehicles.

Soliday explained “To quote the Rand Corporation report: Today, you can run a autonomous vehicle into a brick wall, kill everyone on board and be fully compliant with every state and Federal law, because there is no standard and no law regarding a robot driver.”

Indiana’s Department of Transportation is also watching the driverless car debate at the State Capital.

Just this week, INDOT announced an expansion of what they’re calling their traffic signal technologies to get ready for connected and driverless cars.

Scott Manning, an INDOT Spokesperson explained “I think this is a nice compliment to the conversation that’s advancing at the Legislature.”

Manning said INDOT will use about 20 stop lights statewide that can wirelessly share data between vehicles.

Manning explained “If we notice a lot of vehicles swerving in a given area, that would tell us that there might be an issue there with potholes. We’d be able to respond and get maintenance to those areas sooner.”

Where you might one day be in your driverless car in Indiana.

Soliday said his legislation would also require a permit from an autonomous vehicle task group that could be revoked…say if you run 10 stop lights.

Soliday explained some of the features that might be in your car now, like lane keep assist or adaptive cruise control, are baby steps to complete autonomy.

The next steps are to go to conference committee, which is expected soon.

To read the legislation, and vote sheets, click here

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