A new request has been sent to President Biden.
What began as a heavily modified Chevrolet Bolt has become something quite different. Cruise LLC, which is majority-owned by General Motors, is eager to get its fully autonomous technology on the road, but it requires political assistance to help make that happen. According to a letter seen by Reuters, Cruise CEO Dan Ammann wrote to President Biden last month with a big request.
He wants the president to back legislation to increase the maximum number of vehicles a company can have exempted from safety standards that don't meet current federal requirements stating a human driver is required. Ammann, simply put, wants more driverless testing to begin immediately. Not only is this necessary to expand the business and improve technology, but he also claims the US is in a battle against China in the autonomous technology race.
The existing cap of driverless vehicles allowed, Ammann writes, "acts as a US-only impediment to building these vehicles at scale in the United States." He's rightly worried about "China's top-down, centrally directed approach imposes no similar restraints on their homegrown AV industry."
His request could perhaps be mistaken as a way to seek additional government funding, but the CEO made clear that's not his intention. "We do not seek, require or desire government funding; we seek your help in leveling the playing field." He believes autonomous vehicles have the potential to create as many as 108,000 jobs over the next five years. The White House has yet to officially comment or publicly reply.
A couple of senators have already sent a request to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to increase the cap from 15,000 vehicles per manufacturer to 80,000 over three years. Getting Biden's support would definitely help push things along.
Cruise, along with Waymo and even Tesla, is anxious to get the ball rolling at a faster pace in order to prevent stalling the technology's advancements. Also last month, both Cruise and Waymo applied to receive permits to begin charging for rides and deliveries with its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco, one of a few cities where testing is currently underway.
Biden is already pursuing an extremely aggressive infrastructure plan that would, among other things, see thousands of new EV charging stations built over the next few years. Cruise rightfully wants autonomous vehicles to be added to his list of priorities.