Colorado’s AV testing law

Excerpt from the Denver Post, May 2017

“We were very clear in writing the law that we’re not changing any of those other laws. Obviously, seatbelts is one of them. Turning indicators, moving aside for emergency vehicles — all of those laws still have to be followed,” Hill said. “If you get into a car and don’t fasten your seatbelt, you’re the one liable. It’s not your car’s job to make sure you as the owner are doing your job.”

The law does require companies who plan to test driverless cars in Colorado to first check in with the state Department of Transportation and State Patrol.

Driverless cars — which use sensors, cameras, GPS and lasers to drive on their own — are being tested on the roads in California, Arizona and Michigan. While most states have pending legislation or have considered rules, Colorado becomes the 17th to pass legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Governors in three other states have issued executive orders related to autonomous vehicles.

“In 2017, 33 states have considered autonomous-vehicle bills and seven states have enacted legislation,” said Amanda Essex, NCSL’s policy specialist on transportation. “State action ranges from establishing a committee to study the technology to developing regulations regarding the operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads. The number of states considering legislation has increased each year since 2012, and at least 41 states have considered legislation addressing autonomous vehicles in the last five years.”

When the bill was introduced, opponents expressed concern about safety and wished the bill included language for a backup human driver. But proponents, including Advocacy Denver, noted how driverless cars could improve opportunities for people with disabilities, while a farmer representing the Colorado Farm Bureau said his auto-pilot tractor greatly reduced accidents at night.

In Colorado, Panansonic is developing a smart city that will include autonomous electric EZ10 shuttles from France’s EasyMile, which is moving its U.S. headquarters to Denver. Also, the state in October hosted Uber’s self-driving tractor-trailer that drove Budweiser beer more than 120 miles to Colorado Springs from Fort Collins.

But will GM bring its self-driving tests to Colorado?

“Denver, as you’ve heard, is now open for business, so it’s certainly under consideration by GM and by anybody else in the industry. There are a lot of other companies developing this technology as well,” said Harry Lightsey, GM’s executive director of emerging technologies policy and who attended the signing. “That’s the exciting part of it, too. You don’t have to be an automaker to develop this, and that’s the good thing about the Colorado law.”

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