House Passes Self-Driving Car Bill, IoT Component Manufacturers Expect Booming Business

Components of the Internet of Things will be an important part of the safety, cybersecurity and privacy aspects of the SELF-DRIVE Act and related legislation.
By Ronald E. Quirk
Sep 14, 2017

In a rare display of bipartisanship, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that will speed up the development of self-driving automobiles. On Sept. 6, 2017, the House unanimously passed the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment in Vehicle Evolution (SELF-DRIVE) Act. Among other things, the SELF-DRIVE Act delineates the Federal Government's roles in overseeing safety, testing, cybersecurity and privacy matters of self-driving cars, mandates actions from automobile manufacturers, and examines Internet of Things component standards. The bill also preempts state laws that conflict with the Act and regulations that result from it. The U.S. Senate is currently working on a companion bill, and reconciliation of the two bills is expected to rapidly proceed.

IoT Market Should Thrive Under this Bill
Congress's newly reinvigorated efforts to hasten the deployment of self-driving cars has been cheered by suppliers of IoT self-driving car components, including software, sensor and semiconductor manufacturers. For example, a recent study by a reliable market research firm concluded that the world market for automotive semiconductors will grow from the 2015 level of $30.3 billion to $41 billion in 2020. Markets for self-driving auto sensors and cameras are also expected to grow exponentially.

More Regulations for Auto Manufacturers and IoT Component Suppliers
While IoT component manufacturers should do quite well under the SELF-DRIVE Act, self-driving auto manufacturers will be subject to many new regulations. IoT components used in self-driving cars may also be subject to new standards. Nonetheless, there is much in the bill that will help make the United States a prime market for self-driving cars, as well as an important industry location for them.

Key Provisions of the SELF-DRIVE ACT

Exponential Increase in Self-Driving Car Permits
The bill will increase the number of annual self-driving car permits granted by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) to auto manufacturers. The current limit is 2,500; under the bill, that will increase to 25,000 during the first year after passage, up to 100,000 after three years. Manufacturers will also be granted renewal expectancy. In order to obtain permits, manufacturers will need to demonstrate certain safety standards in their self-driving cars. Manufacturers will also be required to provide NHTSA with reports about any and all crashes in which their "permitted vehicles" are involved.

Federal Preemption of Conflicting State Laws
Under the bill, NHTSA will oversee and regulate the design, construction and performance of self-driving cars; all conflicting state laws will be preempted. This will create a uniform set of regulations; exempting auto and IoT suppliers from having to comply with a patchwork of state regulations. States will retain jurisdiction over insurance, safety and emissions inspections, insurance and registration matters.

New Safety Standards
The SELF-DRIVE Act directs the Secretary of Transportation (SoT) to, within two years after the bill's passage, issue a final rule requiring self-driving auto manufacturers to submit assessment certifications to NHTSA regarding how they are addressing safety issues that arise in their vehicles.

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