Look Congress, no hands!
On Tuesday, lawmakers went for a spin in a driver-less Cadillac. The hands-free car rides were organized by Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who has been championing the new technology ever since he went for a test ride in the driver-less car last year. Shuster thought it important that his fellow policymakers experience autonomous driving as well, The Hill reports, and so he had the car sent up from Carnegie Mellon University, which is in Shuster’s home state, to Capitol Hill on Tuesday. By the day’s end, the car had successfully chauffeured 18 lawmakers through DC traffic and highways.
Before hopping into the car with acting Under Secretary for Policy Peter Rogoff, Shuster held a press briefing near Capitol Hill in which he extolled the virtues of the new technology, especially its safety benefits.
“I believe this car is going to reduce fatalities, because 93 percent of the crashes that occur are driver control error,” Shuster stated. “There’s going to be a tremendous decrease in fatalities, I believe, and a tremendous decrease in accidents.”
Other lawmakers are less enthused. At a hearing on autonomous vehicles last year, Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) sounded his reservations about the idea.
“First, it’s hard for me to fathom a car in New York City being without a driver,” he said. “I mean, it’s hard enough with a driver. So, you know, trying to visualize this is very difficult.”
The new technology raises other questions, as well, such as who will be held accountable for driver-less car crashes and how the cars will be regulated and insured. As Congress currently works to draft a new transportation funding budget, demystifying the new technology for lawmakers is especially relevant.
“No hands on the wheel!” the House Transportation Committee tweeted along with a picture of Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) behind the wheel of the driver-less car.
On Wednesday, Gibbs and Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) will be conducting a Q&A session on Facebook to discuss their experience riding the driver-less car and to answer questions about the future of transportation in the U.S.
Below is video footage of the car’s D.C. trip and a Google pedometer map of Tuesday’s drive: