[Nfbc-info] FW: [AutonomousVehicles] Update

tim at timeldermusic.com tim at timeldermusic.com
Tue Jan 23 14:58:36 UTC 2018



Members in California may be interested to here this update on all the activity being done to promote access to self-driving vehicles.  I urge you to contact Senator Feinstein to voice your support for the NFB’s work on this important issue.  I have no doubt blind people will ride in self-driving vehicles in my lifetime.  Please engage now to ensure we stay ahead of the curve.




From: AutonomousVehicles [mailto:autonomousvehicles-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Hedtler-Gaudette, Dylan via AutonomousVehicles
Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 6:37 AM
To: AutonomousVehicles at nfbnet.org
Cc: Hedtler-Gaudette, Dylan <DHedtler-Gaudette at nfb.org>
Subject: [AutonomousVehicles] Update


Greetings all! 


I hope everyone is doing well and that many of you will be joining us next week for another fantastic and productive Washington Seminar. 


As many of you probably know, there have been some developments in the autonomous vehicle space over the last few months. I wanted to take the time to review and recap some of those developments and hopefully help lay the foundation for the work of this Committee in 2018!


1.	Federal Legislation

*	As many of you are aware, the House of Representatives passed the SELF DRIVE Act (H.R. 3388) in September 2017. That bill did not include much that we wanted, though it does create a Federal Advisory Committee that will be tasked with addressing issues pertinent to the disability community. There are concerns about the FACA model, primarily based on their general lack of efficacy and influence over the ultimate decisions on rulemaking and regulations. 
*	The Senate also has an autonomous vehicle bill, the AV START Act (S. 1885). This bill was voted out of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in October 2017. This bill actually has much more in it that we pushed for, including a specific prohibition against the issuance of licenses that discriminate on the basis of disability, a requirement that manufacturers report on efforts to make the human-machine interface (HMI) accessible to people with disabilities and it creates a technical committee that contains a specific working group dedicated to making recommendations around issues related to the disability community. The technical committee model is far preferable to the FACA model as it provides for a more direct role and influence over rulemaking and regulations that come out of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the primary federal body that will be tasked with setting standards in the autonomous vehicle space. The NFB actually put out a press release applauding the Senate bill when it was voted out of committee. We also submitted a letter of support for the bill that was read into the congressional record. 

o   The Senate bill is still making its way through the full Senate. The bill sponsors are trying to get the bill through on unanimous consent, which requires a process called the “hotline.” Tis is a forum where Senators who have objections can raise those objections and the bill proponents can thus have a sense of where stumbling blocks are. The staff then work with the offices that raised objections and try to get them resolved. The end goal is to smooth out all of the “holds” that were placed through the hotline and then move the bill on a unanimous consent motion. 

o   There are several key Democratic Senators that have raised significant objections and this is where we have a call to action. The most pressing issue is the objection raised by Senator Diane Feinstein (California), though other holds have been placed by Senator Blumenthal (Connecticut), Senator Gillibrand (New York) and Senator Markey (Massachusetts). If you live in any of these states then please reach out to your Senators and express support for the bill and your desire as a constituent to see the Senator support it as well. If you need any help in crafting talking points or tracking down contact information for your Senators, please let me know and I’ll do whatever I can to help.

*	I was at a meeting with bipartisan Senate staff last week to discuss the bill’s status and to confer with other interested stakeholders as to how we can be of most value in this final push for the bill. It is worth noting that NFB got a special and specific shout out at the meeting, which was attended by people ranging from auto manufacturers to technology companies to congressional staff. Because of the work that you all and the NFB as a whole have done, we truly have emerged as the go-to disability organization in the autonomous vehicle space. Leveraging that leadership position into influence and positive outcomes is the key moving forward. 

2.	State Legislation

*	There is even more activity at the state level than at the federal level. Since 2012 there have been 41 states (plus Washington D.C.) that have considered AV legislation. 21 states (plus D.C.) have actually passed such legislation while several more states have seen their governors enact executive orders on AVs.  These trends show how important and topical this issue is and how much energy and interest there is around the country. 
*	Please see this link <http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/autonomous-vehicles-self-driving-vehicles-enacted-legislation.aspx>  for a really helpful and comprehensive resource on state-level AV activity. It contains a database that you can search to find bills in your state as well as a general overview of which states have already enacted legislation, what the legislation does and other relevant details. I would urge you to determine whether your state has enacted any state-level bills or executive orders, analyze the policy and reach out to your local policymakers to engage them around the issue. Again, if you need any help in figuring out if your state has already done anything on this front or if you need help tracking the bill down or finding the contact information for your local legislators, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’m here to help!
*	Indiana: The most immediate state AV initiative is in Indiana. An AV bill was just voted out of the Indiana legislature’s Roads and Transportation Committee last week. Our wonderful NFB of Indiana affiliate jumped into action and engaged directly with the Chairman of that committee in order to express some concerns we had with the bill. Last we checked, the Chairman had promised to remove some problematic licensing language from the bill and that was a direct result of our Indiana affiliate’s leadership and advocacy on the bill. We still haven’t seen the ultimate version of the bill so we can’t be certain as to the outcome. This situation was a textbook example of effective coordination between a state affiliate and the national office on the AV front. 

3.	Various and Sundry

*	Some of you may have seen this already but President Riccobono and the NFB will be recognized  for our work in the AV space at an awards dinner tomorrow evening. Here is what the president wrote about it in the most recent Presidential Notebook:


Autos2050SM Award:
This Wednesday, I will be receiving one of the inaugural Autos2050SM awards being presented by the Auto Alliance and the Alliance for Transportation Innovation. The award is in recognition of the work of the National Federation of the Blind, and we will be among twelve state and national political leaders and automotive innovators who will be honored at a dinner and awards presentation in Washington, DC. The award recognizes our work to influence the direction of autonomous vehicle technology so that it will enhance the independence and mobility of blind people. More information can be found in our press release <https://nfb.org/nfb-president-receives-automotive-innovation-award> .


*	Here are links to a couple of pieces of content that also highlight the leadership role that NFB is taking on in the AV space 

o   https://morningconsult.com/2018/01/05/retirement-will-take-away-key-advocate-for-benefits-of-driverless-cars-for-disabled-americans/

o   https://www.enotrans.org/etl-material/automated-vehicle-technology-can-help-people-disabilities/

*	Lastly, you may or may not have seen this already but GM recently announced <http://www.gm.com/mol/m-2018-jan-0112-cruise-av.html>  that it would be deploying Level 4 autonomous vehicles that do not have steering wheels or brake/gas pedals. This new design carries with it positive implications for the blind and other potential riders who do not or cannot obtain traditional driver’s licenses; after all, if there is no steering wheel then there can be no expectation that a rider will be “driving” the car in the traditional sense at any point. This new design will require an exemption to be approved by NHTSA before GM can proceed. 


This is what I have for the Committee at the moment. There may be more to report or share and I will be sure to do that as things develop. Please don’t hesitate to follow up with me if you have any questions or if I can be of any assistance. 


Thanks and see some of you soon!





Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette

Government Affairs Specialist

200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, MD 21230

(410) 659-9314, extension 2210 | DHedtler-Gaudette at nfb.org





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