The bottom line is that safety standards that apply to human-driven cars don't necessarily apply to self-driving vehicles (such as the requirement that a auto have a steering wheel).
The legislation would require the U.S. Transportation Department within a year to develop rules regarding self-driving cars sharing roads with traditional vehicles and identify other aspects of autonomous vehicles that may require performance standards to be set, such as sensors, software and the interaction between passengers and the auto. It would also allow automakers to deploy 25,000 self-driving cars in the first year, a number that would rise to 100,000 over a three-year time span.
Designers of self-driving cars have complained that the differing laws of each state have hindered the deployment of vehicles.
Representative Doris Matsui said the bill "puts us on a path towards innovation which, up until recently, seemed unimaginable".
Automakers and technology companies, including General Motors Co and Alphabet Inc's self-driving unit Waymo, have sought easier federal rules for self-driving technology, while some consumer groups have pushed for more safeguards. The House measure does not include large trucks. Experts have said that self-driving cars will drastically reduce road fatalities, most of which are caused by human error.
Under the bill, manufacturers seeking exemptions must demonstrate self-driving cars are at least as safe as existing vehicles. The House bill would make complying with the guidelines mandatory to deploy autonomous vehicles.
States will still be able to set regulations on registration, safety inspections, licensing, and insurance.
The newly passed bill is created to accelerate the timeframe for allowing self-driving vehicles to be on the roads for testing without humans behind the wheel.
The Senate has been debating a similar bill to SELF DRIVE, and they haven't passed any legislation yet.
The House will vote on the bill under fast-track rules that allow no amendments.
Another association, the Coalition for Future Mobility, said it "supports legislative measures that will optimize the safe testing and deployment of automated vehicles in a technology-neutral manner while continuing to let innovation thrive".
Consumer advocates have called for giving the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration quicker access to crash data and more funding to oversee self-driving cars.