Cruise LLC, the autonomous vehicle (AV) company majority owned by General Motors Co (GM.N), urged President Joe Biden to support efforts to speed up thousands of self-driving cars on U.S. roads, saying the country was in danger of falling behind China. , according to an unpublished letter seen by Reuters.
Cruise chief executive Dan Ammann in a letter to Biden dated May 17, asked him to support legislation raising the cap on the number of vehicles a company can request to exempt from safety standards that do not meet to existing federal requirements which assume that human drivers are in control.
The cap, Ammann wrote, “is a uniquely American barrier to building these large-scale vehicles in the United States.” Cruise provided a copy of the letter to Reuters.
“China’s centrally-led, top-down approach places no similar restrictions on its local audiovisual industry,” Ammann wrote. “We are not seeking, requiring or desiring government funding; we are asking for your help to level the playing field,” he said, citing research that found that VAs are “believed to be creating and to maintain 108,000 jobs over the next five years “.
The White House declined to comment on Monday.
Senators John Thune and Gary Peters have been working for several years on efforts to ease restrictions on VAs. An amendment to a bill designed to tackle US competitiveness against China proposed by Thune to raise the cap was stalled last week amid opposition from unions and plaintiffs’ lawyers, but Thune and Peters should continue to pursue the matter.
Thune and Peters circulated language in April supporting potential legislation to give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the power to lift the cap and initially exempt 15,000 autonomous vehicles per manufacturer, rising to 80,000 in three years. The NHTSA should certify that exempted autonomous vehicles are at least as safe as human-driven ones.
Ammann, in his letter to Biden, said that “without your support and the action of Congress to revise these self-imposed barriers, the American audiovisual manufacturing industry will lag behind, the development of AI will stagnate and our foreign competitors will accelerate ”.
The auto industry, Alphabet Inc’s Waymo (GOOGL.O) and others have been pushing for years to convince Congress to accelerate the deployment of autonomous vehicles.
Reuters reported on May 11 that Waymo and California-based Cruise had applied for the necessary permits to begin billing for trips and delivery using autonomous vehicles in San Francisco, citing state documents. Read more
In October, Cruise announced plans to seek NHTSA approval to deploy a limited number of Cruise Origin vehicles without a steering wheel or pedal. The Origin, which was developed with GM and Cruise investor Honda Motor (7267.T), has two long, face-to-face seats that can comfortably accommodate four passengers. Production is expected to start in early 2023.
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