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house Bill H.R. 2542

Should the Feds Research the Impact of Automated Vehicles on Infrastructure, the Environment, and Urban Policy?

Argument in favor

Heavy investments in highly automated vehicles (AVs), as well as numerous test projects across the country, are making a driverless car future increasingly more attainable. The government needs to understand what this means for the future, and funding a clearinghouse to collect AV research will aid in this goal by coordinating disparate research efforts across the country.

burrkitty's Opinion
···
05/29/2019
Stop putting off the inevitable. It’s going to happen. Be proactive for once. It’s the job of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. Get on with it.
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jimK's Opinion
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05/29/2019
I love technology and the benefits that can be realized. We do need oversight to insure safety standards are met. I see this technology to be much like the aircraft industry and would require similar oversight, regulation and inspection. I, for one, am currently uncomfortable with the idea of driver-less semis traveling next to me on interstate highways. Technology failures would have terrible consequences. Also, a lot needs to be done to sort out liabilities for tech failures to protect people from such failures as well as to prevent ambulance chasing lawyers from shutting down beneficial new industries with their greed.
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Brian's Opinion
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05/29/2019
Yes, we already don't do enough research and infrastructure planning and building for the increased numbers of cars on the road, especially now that Uber & Lyft have swollen those ranks in many cities. What will happen once there are automated vehicles routing through town picking up and dropping people multiple times a day? We as a country need to do a much better job of planning and measuring traffic and transit in order to continue through this century of automation and sustainability.
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Argument opposed

There’s already plenty of AV research happening across the U.S., so there’s no need for the federal government to fund additional research or a clearinghouse when all of this information is easily accessible to everyone, including government employees and policymakers. Additionally, self-driving car deployment timelines have recently been pushed out, giving government more time to figure out what a self-driving car future means for cities.

JTJ's Opinion
···
05/29/2019
This is not the job of the federal government.
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Kodiwodi's Opinion
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05/29/2019
Normally I would jump on this and say sure thing but the amount proposed is a pittance when we have other AV centers across the country doing the exact same thing and I have reason to question the Transportation Secretary’s credibility now that we find that she didn’t dispossess herself of a large number of bonds and securities she was to have done so before taking the job. I have no reason to trust her anymore than her weasel husband Mitch McConnell. As self driving vehicles have been put off, the money is minuscule, and I have credibility issues with who gets the money, I say take a hard pass.
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Gopin2018's Opinion
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05/29/2019
Another Democrat waste of time and money. #MAGA
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Research and Technology
      Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
    IntroducedMay 7th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 2542?

This bill — the Preparing Localities for an Autonomous and Connected Environment (PLACE) Act — would create a federally-funded highly automated vehicle clearinghouse housed at a higher education institution. This clearinghouse would collect, conduct and fund research on highly automated vehicles’ (AVs) “secondary influences” and make such research available on a public website. For the purposes of this bill, “highly automated vehicle” means a motor vehicle that is capable of performing the entire task of driving (including steering, accelerating and decelerating, and reacting to external stimulus) without human intervention. “Secondary influence” is defined as influence on land use, urban design, transportation, real estate, municipal budgets, social equity, and the environment.

This bill would be funded through a $2 million grant from the Secretary of Transportation out of the Highway Trust Fund, beginning with FY 2019. The Secretary of Transportation would be required to establish this clearinghouse within 180 days of this bill’s enactment.

Impact

Highly automated vehicles; research on highly automated vehicles; a higher education institution selected to house the highly automated vehicle clearinghouse; Highway Trust Fund; and the Secretary of Transportation.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2542

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced this bill to create a federally-funded highly automated vehicle clearinghouse to examine autonomous vehicles’ secondary effects:

“With innovations in transit, rideshare, bikeshare, and scooters, the transportation sector is changing faster than ever before. Autonomous vehicles are coming faster than most of us realize and it is incumbent upon us to start planning now. Done right, Autonomous vehicles can increase mobility, improve social equity, and solve some of the country’s most vexing problems. Done wrong, we may repeat the mistakes of the past. The PLACE Act will allow us to have the research at our disposal to create more livable communities for all.”

In a letter to his Congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this bill, Rep. Blumenauer wrote:

“The transportation sector is changing at a faster pace than ever before. New mobility options like Uber and Lyft, bikeshare, scooters, and more have already disrupted how Americans get around. And with more than 300 companies and partnerships working toward bringing semi- or fully-autonomous vehicles to market in the near future, the landscape is set to change even faster. While Congress has started to debate autonomous vehicle legislation, little attention has been paid to the secondary influences of autonomous vehicles once they are deployed onto the roads. That is, how will autonomous vehicles affect land use, real estate transportation, municipal budgets, urban design, the environment, and social equity? The PLACE Act creates a federally funded highly automated vehicle clearinghouse to examine the secondary influences of autonomous vehicles. The clearinghouse would be housed at a higher education institution and be required to collect, conduct, and fund research understanding how autonomous vehicles influence land use, real estate, transportation, municipal budgets, urban design, the environment, and social equity. The clearinghouse is funded at $2 million annually and would be chosen by the Secretary of Transportation within 180 days of enactment.”

Michael H. Schill, president of the University of Oregon and a professor of law, notes Rep. Blumenauer’s long track record on community livability issues:

"Congressman Blumenauer is widely recognized as a pioneer in understanding the role of place in making communities resilient and livable. His bill would establish an essential resource for communities to manage impacts from autonomous vehicles. The clearinghouse would speed the dissemination of research by programs like the Urbanism Next Center, an initiative of UO's Sustainable Cities Institute."

The American Planning Association supports this bill. APA President Kurt Christiansen, FAICP, says:

“The implications of autonomous vehicles touch virtually every aspect of community planning. Communities are working now to identify the right policies to ensure that new mobility technologies enhance and expand quality of life and livability. The access to critical information and research provided by the PLACE Act is essential to helping communities get our AV future right.”

This bill has three Democratic cosponsors.


Of NoteCurrent legislative frameworks being debated in Congress would delineate state, local, and federal roles in regulating autonomous vehicles while also setting cybersecurity, safety, and data standards. However, current debates haven’t paid much attention to autonomous vehicles’ secondary influences once they’re deployed onto the roads.

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) have the potential to completely change how cities are built and lived in. In 2016, researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Driverless Cities Project argued that AVs have the potential to change “[e]verything from sidewalks and curbs to streets, building designs, urban layouts, and living patterns.” One of the researchers, Marshall Brown, summarizes the research thus: “[W]e want to ask what kind of world do we want, and how do we leverage this technology to get there?” Questions surrounding AV affect whether or not parking lots, road signs and traffic signals are necessary and how wide new roads need to be.

In 2016, a small group of researchers at five Dept. of Energy-funded labs tasked with studying how to minimize self-driving cars’ impact on the environment found that AVs’ impact on the environment — for good or ill — is best managed with careful planning.

The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, a lobbying group for self-driving cars comprising of Google, Ford and Uber, prefers a single set of federal standards for AVs. In 2016, the lobby’s counsel and spokesperson, David Strickland, said:

“Self-driving vehicle technology will make America’s roadways safer and less congested. The best path for this innovation is to have one clear set of federal standards, and the Coalition will work with policymakers to find the right solutions that will facilitate the deployment of self-driving vehicles.”

In a paper presented at the Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium of the National Academy of Sciences, “The Science of Science Communication III” in November 2017 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., researchers noted that current questions about AVs are now focused on their impact, rather than whether they’ll come into existence in future:

“Automated vehicles (AVs) already navigate US highways and those of many other nations around the world. Current questions about AVs do not now revolve around whether such technologies should or should not be implemented; they are already with us. Rather, such questions are more and more focused on how such technologies will impact evolving transportation systems, our social world, and the individuals who live within it and whether such systems ought to be fully automated or remain under some form of direct human control. More importantly, how will mobility itself change as these independent operational vehicles first share and then dominate our roadways? How will the public be kept apprised of their evolving capacities, and what will be the impact of science and the communication of scientific advances across the varying forms of social media on these developments?”

All of the major car and ride-share companies have made significant investments in self-driving vehicles. In August 2018, Bloomberg reported that total private investment in the AV sector in Q2 2018 was more than the total private investment in the sector from 2014-2017 combined. In a February 2018 post on Medium, Geoff Nesnow, a professor at Hult Business School, argued that these developments have shrunk the the timeline for significant adoption of AV technology.

Setbacks in the AV industry, including a fatal Uber crash that killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona in March 2018, have recently caused the industry to temper expectations and push out timelines for AVs’ deployment. At a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York in April 2019, Uber’s chief scientists at Uber Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), Raquel Urtasun, said, “Self-driving cars are going to be in our lives. The question of when is not clear yet. To have it at scale is going to take a long time.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / metamorworks)

AKA

PLACE Act

Official Title

To direct the Secretary of Transportation to make grants for the operation of a clearinghouse to collect, conduct, and fund research on the influences of highly automated vehicles on land use, urban design, transportation, real estate, and municipal budgets, and for other purposes.

    Stop putting off the inevitable. It’s going to happen. Be proactive for once. It’s the job of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. Get on with it.
    Like (48)
    Follow
    Share
    This is not the job of the federal government.
    Like (30)
    Follow
    Share
    Normally I would jump on this and say sure thing but the amount proposed is a pittance when we have other AV centers across the country doing the exact same thing and I have reason to question the Transportation Secretary’s credibility now that we find that she didn’t dispossess herself of a large number of bonds and securities she was to have done so before taking the job. I have no reason to trust her anymore than her weasel husband Mitch McConnell. As self driving vehicles have been put off, the money is minuscule, and I have credibility issues with who gets the money, I say take a hard pass.
    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
    I love technology and the benefits that can be realized. We do need oversight to insure safety standards are met. I see this technology to be much like the aircraft industry and would require similar oversight, regulation and inspection. I, for one, am currently uncomfortable with the idea of driver-less semis traveling next to me on interstate highways. Technology failures would have terrible consequences. Also, a lot needs to be done to sort out liabilities for tech failures to protect people from such failures as well as to prevent ambulance chasing lawyers from shutting down beneficial new industries with their greed.
    Like (21)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes, we already don't do enough research and infrastructure planning and building for the increased numbers of cars on the road, especially now that Uber & Lyft have swollen those ranks in many cities. What will happen once there are automated vehicles routing through town picking up and dropping people multiple times a day? We as a country need to do a much better job of planning and measuring traffic and transit in order to continue through this century of automation and sustainability.
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    Another Democrat waste of time and money. #MAGA
    Like (17)
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    Try dealing with the NEEDS OF TODAY instead of running down gofer holes on crazy legislation. How about INFRASTRUCTURE. That would create jobs AND help the country.
    Like (10)
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    I would imagine this is already being monitored very closely by the manufacturers, the transportation department. I don’t see where law makers need any part of this. They can’t do their job now.
    Like (9)
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    I have a better idea. Let’s actually fix our infrastructure. Fairly sure electric cars don’t harm our bridges.
    Like (6)
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    Not a Constitutional power!
    Like (6)
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    Automated vehicles are NOT ready for prime time!
    Like (5)
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    No. Government is bloated and corrupt. That’s a job for the private sector.
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    Just another way for the government to waste money.
    Like (5)
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    OK so once we have automated vehicles, we don't have to worry about the large percentage of intoxicated drivers. Why because they aren't driving! Long road trip take a nap, watch a movie, study and become more!
    Like (5)
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    No, let’s fix the roads and bridges first.
    Like (5)
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    YES, AUTOMATED VEHICLES and their effects on the ENVIRONMENT, INFRASTRUCTURE , JOB DISPLACEMENT , SAFETY & LIABILITY ISSUES need to be studied so we can find the BEST approach going forward in the future!
    Like (5)
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    Protecting our environment, and focusing on actual infrastructure issues will help make America great.
    Like (4)
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    It would take the feds 2 years and billions of dollars to research this when private industries could do it for far less. Get three different companies to review it and compare results. It will still be more cost effective and quicker than one done by the government.
    Like (4)
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    Stop Stop spending tax payers hard earned money. Let’s only do what the people want and ask for. Let us vote to cut the congresses work to sixty days per year and their pay to thirty days per year. We the people don’t want all of the Laws our Congress legislative people dream up. Go read what the Founding Fathers wrote in our Constitution that our leaders were to do. Limited Government is best Protect our Borders. Fund our military. That’s what the people want. Congressional people to serve a maximum number of two years in their lifetime .
    Like (4)
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    Don’t need anymore Federal bureaucracy
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