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Self-Driving Cars Can Pave Way during COVID-19. Let’s do so in the U.S.


Washington, DC – Americans are wisely moving their daily lives to their homes during COVID-19 and following recommendations from public health officials to distance themselves from others. At the same time, these changes present hurdles as people seek to stock up on medical supplies, groceries, and other necessities without exposing themselves to this virus. Self-driving cars, or autonomous vehicles, can be a part of the American advantage in meeting this challenge—if Congress steps up.

The need for us to stop supply chain vulnerabilities and relying on other countries to provide supplies in the U.S. has also stood out more than ever during this unprecedented time. We’ve seen this recently with our medical drugs, oil, telecommunications gear, and emerging technologies. The technological race against China began well before this as the Communist Party of China has made clear its intentions to become the world’s top economy by 2049, when they celebrate 100 years of communist rule. However, as they continue to spread propaganda during the global pandemic that originated in their country, we cannot let up one inch in allowing China to take advantage of this crisis and further lay their groundwork for dominance in emerging technologies.

We have seen China touting their progress in this field, and unfortunately, if we do not act soon, we may see China drive ahead of us in leading autonomous vehicles, or AVs. That would be a massive failure in leadership. AVs present an enormous opportunity to:

  • Help seniors and those with disabilities become more self-sufficient;
  • Deliver tests, medical supplies, groceries, and other necessities;
  • Jump start our economy by not just preserving jobs, but also creating new ones, as businesses get back to work and eye whole new opportunities;
  • Drastically improve roadway safety; and, of course,
  • Have the United States lead on the world stage.

Bottom line: We need a federal framework for AVs to ensure we maintain our global leadership and ensure Americans enjoy the vast mobility and safety benefits that come with this lifesaving and life-changing technology.

Read more about industry efforts to use self-driving cars during this time in Popular Mechanics, CBS 47 News Jacksonville, and POLITICO.

Popular Mechanics

An Unlikely Coronavirus Hero? Self-Driving Cars

By Courtney Linder

March 11, 2020

Makers of autonomous vehicles have long been selling the benefits driver-free transportation. But it took a devastating global pandemic to provide a compelling, real-world example.

A Chinese self-driving delivery company called Neolix has been deploying fleets of its self-driving vans to transport medical supplies and food to areas of the country hit hardest by COVID-19, including the epidemic’s epicenter in Wuhan. The small vans even have the capacity to disinfect city streets—now empty due to quarantine measures.

While the U.S. does not have sweeping federal laws pertaining to self-driving vehicles and operation on public streets, companies like Waymo, Uber, and Argo AI have close relationships with city and state level governments where testing is conducted in states like California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Florida, among others.

Nuro, a Mountain View, California-based company, develops delivery vehicles similar to the ones that Neolix offers. The company secured the first federal safety approval to operate self-driving vehicles that don’t meet federal safety standards that apply to other cars and trucks that humans drive.

Click HERE to read the full story.


CBS 47 News Jacksonville

Autonomous vehicles transport COVID-19 tests to Mayo Clinic

By Amber Krycka

April 2, 2020

With the COVID-19 outbreak, health care resources and staffers are stretched thin. That’s why the Jacksonville Transportation Authority teamed up with Beep and Navya to help transport COVID-19 tests to the Mayo Clinic, using autonomous vehicles.

“When the coronavirus really started taking hold — the pandemic started taking hold — one of the challenges was the movement of samples, the specimens on the campus. We have four vehicles on the Mayo campus. We’re running those specimens from the drive-thru testing location tent, and taking it across the campus to their laboratory,” said Nathaniel Ford, chief executive officer for the JTA.

Since Monday, Ford said they’re averaging about 100 samples a day. By next week, he said they should be doing about 1,000-1,200 samples a week.

Click HERE to read the full story.


POLITICO Morning Transportation


By Sam Mintz with help from Brianna Gurciullo

April 8, 2020

The driverless delivery company, which recently received a first-of-its-kind exemption from federal regulators, also got permission from California’s government on Tuesday to test its vehicles on public roads with no drivers behind the wheel. The approval applies to nine cities, and it’s only the second time California has taken that step, with the first having gone to Waymo. In a blog post, Nuro said it will start the delivery service to select customers in the Mountain View area, with plans to expand.

Click HERE to read the full story and HERE to read more about Nuro’s plans.


Last Congress, both the Energy and Commerce Committee and the full House Chamber voted unanimously to pass the SELF DRIVE Act to create this much-needed framework; however, this effort fell short in the Senate. This Congress members discussed this issue at a Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee hearing, where Energy and Commerce Republican Leader said, “the cost of inaction is clear: we are behind.” Additionally, Rep. Walden, Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH), and Consumer Protection and Commerce Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) wrote a letter to Committee Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) requesting the committee take up bipartisan self-driving vehicle legislation.

For more on COVID-19 click HERE