Silicon Valley wants to make another trillion dollars.
We made a trillion dollars building the Internet. We made one
building personal computers. We made a trillion dollars each building software, workstations, and mainframe computers. It is what we do. And the breakthroughs and technologies invented in Silicon Valley power this nation.
Now we can make another trillion dollars building self-driving vehicles, cars that do not crash.
The primary hold-ups are legal, not technical. It is within the range of our technical ability, as evidenced by the DARPA Grand Challenge. Stanford University's vehicle won the first milestone in 2005, driving seven miles without a driver. Stanford University's vehicle placed second in the 2007 competition to drive in traffic, avoiding pedestrians and other vehicles, while obeying all California driving laws. We can engineer the technology to build a car that drives safely on existing roads.
We need your help to create a legal framework for these vehicles, to provide responsiveness from regulatory agencies, and to encourage development.
Almost everyone supports the benefits of self-driving cars; including start-up companies based in Silicon Valley, those touched by the 40,000 American deaths each year from accidents, and my six year old who is in more danger of dying from automobiles than anything else. The technology to build a car that drives on existing roads safely requires work. But the underlying technology is here already. The primary hold-ups are legal, not technical.
Specifically, here is what Silicon Valley and the automobile industry needs from the government:
The legislature of the United States and of the State of California to each pass liability limitations for companies involved in the manufacture, sale, and maintenance of auto-driving cars. The maximum amount would need to include any payments for negligence, wrongful death, unsuitability, and fines among all possible parties from designers, software, manufacturers, and dealers. Having some maximum liability amount, any amount, means that companies can make plans and proceed. A maximum of liability of $4,000,000 per person injured or killed by an auto-driving car, said exemption to expire in 2030, would be excellent.
One licensed driver in 5,000 currently dies from car accidents every year. If an American company save the lives of most of those drivers, it should not be destroyed by the variability of the court system.
The Office of the President can direct that expedient authorization of auto-driving cars by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. A new manufacturer should expect to release a vehicle after no more than three months of testing and without horrific expenses. Cars that do not crash, and cars with a significant software component, will require rethinking our current crash safety guidelines.
The office of the Governor of California can direct the California Department of Motor Vehicles to provide business-friendly guidelines allowing testing and trials for auto-driving cars in development. For example, allowing an experimental car to drive on the road if a human in the car can bring it to safe stop. Also, the Governor can allow any fully licensed auto-driving cars to drive in the carpool lane.
We ask you to do your part in creating a new framework and creating a legacy for the future. All of the benefits of auto-driving cars are huge: employment, exports, technical leadership, and, of course, lives. Crashes are the result of human error, and we hope make money to saving 40,000 American lives each year.
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