“Fearful” Lawmaker Warns “Get On The (Autonomous) Train Or Get Left Behind”
Baton Rouge, Louisiana – A Louisiana lawmaker who sponsored recently passed legislation to attract autonomous truck makers to the state says people who are “fearful” of autonomous vehicles better get over it.
Louisiana House transportation committee Chairman Terry Landry (D), of New Iberia, says he too is “fearful” about the future of autonomous technology, but believes states have no choice but to enact legislation encouraging its testing and deployment.
“We can either get on this train or we can get left behind at the depot, because it’s coming,” he said to his colleagues at a recent hearing.
Louisiana lawmakers almost unanimously adopted the new legislation in hopes to compete with states like California, Arizona, Nevada and others in the race to woo autonomous vehicle makers to their state.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states have already passed similar measures governing the rules of the road for autonomous vehicles.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed similar legislation in June allowing for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles without a human present.
It states: “The bill authorizes operation of a fully autonomous vehicle on Florida roads regardless of whether a human operator is physically present in the vehicle.”
Louisiana’s law will permit autonomous vehicles to transport passengers or property if they are deemed able to follow state vehicle and traffic laws, meet federal vehicle safety standards and achieve “a minimal risk condition if an (operational) failure occurs.”
The vehicles must be registered and have a minimum of $2 million in insurance coverage.
If an accident occurs, the new legislation requires the self-driving vehicle to remain at the accident scene, and someone representing the company must contact law enforcement.
Florida’s new autonomous laws became effective July 1 and Louisiana’s will take effect as of August 1.
Autonomous truck startup Starsky Robotics lobbied for the passage of both bills.
The remote-controlled truck maker recently successfully completed an “unmanned” test run along a 9.4-mile route on the Florida Turnpike about 50 miles west of Vero Beach.
According to an announcement by Starsky’s CEO, Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, a remote operator located in an office in Jacksonville, Florida, approximately 200 miles from the test site, guided the truck on its first and last mile, which was approximately 0.2 miles.
Seltz-Axmacher didn’t just declare the successful test a victory for Starsky, he pronounced it as a momentous milestone for the future of autonomous trucking.
“This isn’t just a massive accomplishment for Starsky, but for the broader autonomy industry,” he said.
While many continue to express concerns about the safety and viability of autonomous technology in real-world applications, Landry is among those who believe it is futile to resist.
“The technology is here, and I think eventually we’re going to see this type of operation throughout our country,” he said to lawmakers.
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