Regulation of self-driving technology for large commercial trucks was not included in a bill the U.S. Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee sent to the full Senate last week.
The bill will prevent states from blocking or slowing down approval of self-driving vehicle technology, Reuters reported. A similar bill was passed unanimously by the U.S. House of Representatives in September.
The panel chose not to include large commercial trucks in the bill in response to labor unions’ concerns about the number of truckers who would lose their jobs, and concerns about safety.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters union rallied against the legislation, citing job loss and a potential reduction of road safety, per Reuters.
Almost 70 percent of domestic freight in the United States is transported by trucks. One research firm predicted that by 2025, one-third of new heavy trucks will include technology that eliminates the need for a full-time driver.
As many as 3 million human drivers could eventually lose their jobs to autonomous vehicles.
Google’s parent company Alphabet, General Motors and Ford are among the manufacturers who wanted the legislation, which they hope will ease the way for development of autonomous vehicles. Tesla has said it in developing a self-driving commercial truck called the Tesla Semi.
According to Trucks.com, truck manufacturers are divided about whether autonomous large commercial trucks would be a good or bad thing. The chief executive of the American Trucking Associations has called for more input from the industry into the development of guidelines.
The autonomous vehicle legislation has drawn support from safety groups, who point out that there’s no risk of a computer driving impaired like a human can. The Transportation Department said 94 percent of vehicle collisions can be traced to a human choice or error.
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