A series of bills introduced in at least four U.S. states — Georgia, Maryland, Illinois and Tennessee — would restrict the deployment of autonomous car technology on public roads to automakers — that is, companies that make cars.
As written, the bills — modeled after the SAVE Act, Michigan’s pioneering self-driving car regulations— would only allow a network of self-driving cars to operate on public roads if the cars are owned by an automaker.
The draft bill being considered in Tennessee, for instance, says: “Only motor vehicle manufacturers are eligible to participate in a SAVE project, and each motor vehicle manufacturer is responsible for the safe operation of its participating fleet.”
This suggests companies like Uber or Alphabet — which owns Waymo, previously known as the Google car project — may not be able to roll out their own self-driving cars in these states. Both companies are developing self-driving car technology, but neither manufactures vehicles.
These bills mirror what was originally proposed in Michigan — home to the U.S. auto industry — where there are now comprehensive laws on the testing and deployment of self-driving cars. But when later passed, the Michigan law included new language that allows companies like Uber and Google to launch ride-hail networks of autonomous cars, as long as they either work with an automaker or get their prototype approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
So far, the bills being proposed in these four states don’t include that language.