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Expect a major announcement in the coming months from the federal government, regarding the instatement of new regulations that will eliminate the crippling restrictions of autonomous cars and their abilities to be tested on public roads. According to US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, automaker giants have been strongly advocating to gain more freedom for testing and developing their driverless brands.

“The pressure is mounting for the federal government to do something,” says Chao. “We don’t want rules that impede future technological advances.”

Both traditional and emerging developers of self-driving vehicles have strongly pushed for these legislative changes that will provide a clearer, more stable path towards making sufficient advancements in the autonomous field. Most rules and regulations pertaining to driverless vehicles have been established on a state-by-state basis. There currently are 17 US states with laws in place regarding autonomous cars, while many more are currently deliberating their options.

The National Conference of State Legislators created a database specifically for autonomous vehicles, which provides up-to-date real-time information on the self-driving industries of every state in the country. US states have a lot of autonomy in terms of making their own laws regarding driverless vehicles, something many experts believe can be used as leverage for states to compete against each other for attracting high-profile industry entities to conduct research on self-driving cars. One concern automakers and emerging companies in the autonomous industry have is data sharing requirements imposed by the US government, which many corporate factions feel could not only delay testing for months, but also prompt states to mandate or instate stricter guidelines.

Regardless of how the federal and state governments address the legislative aspects of alleviating the regulatory burdens on autonomous vehicular technology, the financial gains will make their efforts worthwhile. According to a report from the technology company Intel, self-driving technology is projected to generate $7 trillion in economic activity over the next 33 years. One of the first places where this transition is expected to occur in large numbers is among trucks and tractor trailers. This is primarily due to the amount of money trucking companies would reportedly save by eliminating the need for hiring truck drivers.

Having said that, not only would the development of autonomous trucks face significantly steeper obstacles than conventional vehicles, but a looming concern is the prospect of 1.7 million truck drivers losing their jobs in the United States over the next few years. Nonetheless, automakers continue to move forward with their research and development projects on self-driving technology, while establishing and strengthening partnerships with companies who develop technologies pertinent to automakers maintaining their place in present and future autonomous vehicle markets.

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