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INTERNATIONAL - US House lawmakers passed a wide-ranging bill to speed up the introduction of self-driving vehicles championed by tech and auto companies racing to develop and deploy the technology.

“With this legislation, innovation can flourish without the heavy hand of government,” Ohio Republican Bob Latta said on the House floor ahead of the voice vote in the chamber Wednesday.

Latta is chairperson of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that developed the legislation. The action now moves to the Senate, where Republican John Thune of South Dakota and Democrats Bill Nelson of Florida and Gary Peters of Michigan are leading work on legislation of their own.

The trio serve on the Senate commerce committee, which on Wednesday announced a September 13 hearing to examine autonomous commercial vehicles and how they may fit into the Senate’s self-driving vehicle legislation.

The House bill only applies to passenger cars and light trucks. The House bill would put the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in charge of regulating self-driving car safety and pre-empt competing rules at the state level.

Manufacturers would eventually be able to introduce as many as 100000 self-driving cars per year that do not comply with current US safety rules that assume the presence of a human driver. 

- BLOOMBERG