The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to create a national framework for the development and testing of driverless cars.
Until now, the situation has been that each individual state deals with automakers which want to test and develop autonomous cars in their area.
The new measure would allow automakers to acquire permits for up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards, according to Reuters.
Technically it is being called a “bill” or “measure” and is not yet law, but it’s likely it will at least be the basis for a new law for driverless vehicles.
Representative Doris Matsui says the bill puts the US “on a path towards innovation which, up until recently, seemed unimaginable”.
A large number of companies are currently developing driverless cars. They include the large, traditional automakers, but also new companies who have never built a vehicle before and probably don’t intend to.
The new measure is likely to help the new entrants more because they just need permission to use existing cars for testing their software.
Big automakers will also benefit, of course, but the new measure levels the playing field somewhat by not requiring additional or even some existing auto regulations to be adhered to.
Some consumer groups have said this may be a risk, but most people seem to be welcoming the move.
General Motors, which claims to have become the first company to have built a driverless electric car using mass manufacturing methods, says the new measure is “good progress”.