Here’s why access to new regions could boost self-driving cars

BI Intelligence

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Regulatory developments in two regions of the US could pave the way for broader access to self-driving cars.

  • The Texas Senate Transportation Committee passed a bill on Wednesday that would permit self-driving cars on public roads, provided that the tests comply with federal laws, and that companies testing register their vehicles with the state Department of Motor Vehicles. The bill, known as SB 2205, still needs to pass the state House of Representatives and be signed by Gov. Greg Abbott.
  • In Portland, Oregon, the mayor and transportation commissioner together directed the city’s bureau of transportation to develop a set of rules for companies that plan to test self-driving cars in the city. In developing those rules, Portland will weigh proposals from companies looking to get their self-driving vehicles on the road.

New regulations will do little to move self-driving car production to the areas. Notably, Portland is also considering providing financial incentives to companies testing self-driving buses or shuttles as a means to entice these firms to the region. But it’s likely that states like Michigan and California, which are currently leading the way, will continue to do so. That’s because these firms are attracted to Silicon Valley’s vast developer talent and Michigan’s status as the home of the car industry. New regulations nationwide won’t likely shift the axis of the self-driving car space.

But looser regulations in different environments will speed up the development of self-driving cars. Safety is a major barrier to getting these cars on the road. That’s because self-driving cars aren’t always able to navigate various types of public roads — car companies are still seeing vast numbers of disengagements, where humans intervene because an autonomous vehicle can’t handle the road. Gaining access to new…

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