Here's how SB 915 aims to make autonomous vehicle regulation safer at the local level

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Thursday, January 11, 2024
Here's how SB 915 tackles autonomous vehicle regulation
State Senator Dave Cortese introduced Senate Bill 915, which would put decisions for these cars in the hands of local lawmakers and not the state.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- After seeing issues with autonomous vehicles across the state, South Bay State Senator Dave Cortese wants to put up some regulation guardrails for the community.

He has introduced Senate Bill 915, which would put decisions for these cars in the hands of local lawmakers and not the state.

The future of artificial intelligence is out there and it may be even driving right past you on the streets.

Senator Cortese aims to embrace new wave of technology, but wants to pump the brakes on the current regulations -- or lack thereof.

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"We've never really had a system in this country. I mean from the Henry Ford days, where you just go out and experiment on the streets without traffic laws in place and without the kind of requirements that keep it safe," Cortese said.

After seeing issues involving safety of these autonomous vehicles in places like San Francisco and Los Angeles, Cortese introduced Senate Bill 915 to steer driverless car safety into the hands of local governments, who currently have no influence.

Cortese says once the CPUC and DMV permits the cars to be on the roads, there are not enough accountability measures as piloted vehicles.

He believes putting local governments in charge of closing this loophole is best for safety.

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"City councils and county boards of supervisors meet every week," Cortese said. "They can craft an ordinance, they can come back and tweak that a month later, and they're much more nimble than the state of California."

AI experts agree regulation is needed but some, like UC Berkeley Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Scott Moura, says SB 915 isn't how he would like it done.

He thinks a top-down approach from the state is better.

"Then it's standardized and uniform at the broadest scale possible, which can ensure best practices everywhere," Moura said. "And it's going to be very difficult for AV companies, if basically every community they're working with has a different form of regulation."

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San Jose State Professor Ahmed Banafa says it may be a challenge, but it is still doable.

He adds these companies better be ready for continued calls for regulation across the board as AI becomes more mainstream.

"This year in 2024 is the year of AI applications, and the application cannot be accepted or in the market without regulations," Banafa said.

Senator Cortese says SB 915's first policy committee vote will be in March before Committee and Floor votes in both houses in September.

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