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Soliday wants Indiana to trust, but verify when it comes to autonomous vehicles

State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, presents his plan to regulate autonomous vehicles to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Transportation on Tuesday at the Statehouse.

INDIANAPOLIS — State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, is continuing to refine his proposal to regulate autonomous vehicles in Indiana, despite the opposition of most companies that manufacture and program self-driving cars and trucks.

On Tuesday, Soliday presented House Bill 1341 to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Transportation. A vote on whether to advance the measure to the full Senate is expected Feb. 27.

The legislation authorizes state-approved self-driving vehicles to use Hoosier roadways, and encourages autonomous vehicle companies to test their new technologies in the state. It last month passed the House, 94-0.

Soliday said his goal is to ensure robot-driven vehicles are at least as safe as human-driven cars and trucks, particularly in work zones.

To do that, his proposal creates the Indiana Automated Vehicle Oversight Task Group, comprised of state and local officials, to review and approve autonomous vehicle systems used in Indiana — at least until the federal government enacts national standards.

"Then, if we did have a glitch, we'd have the same ability to revoke that permit as we would with a driver," Soliday said.

Representatives of major auto manufacturers and computer companies told the committee they do not want to be subject to state regulations and simply should be trusted to do the right thing.

"We're as concerned about safety as everyone else," said Mark Palmer, a lobbyist for Toyota Motor North America, Inc. "We think that we're worthy of your trust."

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has identified autonomous vehicle regulation as one of his top priorities for the legislative session.


Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.