House passes legislation to speed up and secure self-driving cars
House passes legislation to speed up and secure self-driving cars

The U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday passed the first major legislation to speed up the rollout of self-driving cars with the passing of the Self Drive Act to secure and speed up the production of self-driving cars.

The bipartisan unanimously passed bill looks “to provide for information on highly automated driving systems to be made available to prospective buyers” by limiting states from controlling how automakers construct and design self-driving cars, according to the bill.  

The bill will also call for the identification of elements that may require new standards, process and procedures for software to help secure human machine interface, sensors, and actuators and other potentially vulnerable components. The bill outlines also policy for the cybersecurity of automated driving systems.

The Self Drive Act would also allow auto manufacturers to deploy 25,000 self-driving vehicles in the first year, 50,000 within the second year, and 100,000 within the third year.

 States will still have the authority to set regulations on registration, safety inspections, licensing, and insurance while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will still be tasked with setting self-driving vehicle manufacturing regulations.

Lawmakers intend for the bill to let the federal government preempt some state laws when it comes to self-driving cars in an effort to eliminate patchwork of state regulations that could otherwise impede progress of the vehicles becoming more mainstream.

The bipartisan vote marks the most significant step towards legislation to date that deals with automotive cyber security Argus Cyber Security Chief Managing Officer Yoni Heilbronn, told SC Media.  

“With increased vehicle connectivity and autonomy comes increased risk, and this bill recognizes the importance of multi-layered automotive cyber security with intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) and of solutions that adjust to unforeseen future circumstances,” Heilbronn said. “Recent legislative developments in the UK on this same issue could indicate the beginning of a trend and should signal to the automotive industry that now is the time to be proactive and to take the wheel in adopting effective standards of automotive cyber security”

Heilbronn went on to say that ensuring the safety and security of drivers, their vehicles, and data should remain a top priority and that stakeholders should be encouraged to continue identifying and implementing the best in automotive cyber security standards.

Experts agree, High-Tech Bridge Chief Executive Office Ilia Kolochenko said the federal government's efforts to regulate driverless cars across the States definitely make sense since the regulations will be easier to comply with.

“However, the States will likely have a possibility to enact their own state laws and regulations (not in contradiction with the federal law) to enhance cybersecurity or reinforce privacy requirements for driverless cars travelling on their roads” Kolochenko said. “This will unavoidably lead to some confusion and ambiguity, which we initially tried to avoid.”

Kolochenko added that he thinks federal regulation can be very helpful to assure interstate standards of driverless cars, but a more holistic approach and coordination are required to ease compliance. The legislation can also be seen as a call to manufacturers of autonomous vehicles to address the concerns of the public to make the vehicles safer and more reliable.

“Only 28 percent of the public believe autonomous vehicles will be safer than ones driven by humans and over 65 percent are concerned self-driving cars would crash,” SQS Chief Executive Officer Dik Vos told SC Media. “Security of these vehicles is another concern for consumers with nearly three out of five (59 percent) convinced that self-driving cars could be infiltrated by hackers, which, could result in horrific incidents or potential hostage scenarios.”

Vos added that if the self-driving technology is to take off and be trusted as secure, quality assurance must be prioritized.