WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. trucking industry urged a U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday to include commercial trucks in a proposed self-driving legislation.
The House of Representatives passed a bill last Wednesday to speed up introduction of self-driving cars by removing regulatory barriers. The bill, however, does not include commercial trucks.
The Senate is considering drafting its own version that could include large trucks. American Trucking Associations President and Chief Executive Chris Spear said in testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday that it was critical for federal policies to include all vehicles on U.S. roads.
"Providing clarity on the legislative and regulatory front will allow us, truck manufacturers, to design and validate systems that meet the future needs of our customers," said truck maker Navistar Chief Executive Troy Clarke in testimony.
Automakers and technology companies, including General Motors, Ford, Alphabet's self-driving unit Waymo, Uber's Otto, have been pushing for legislations making it easier for them to deploy self-driving technology.
In October last year, an Otto-outfitted self-driving truck carried 2,000 cases of Budweiser beer 200 km down Interstate 25 in the state of Colorado from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. The truck's only human driver sat at the back of the cab without touching the vehicle's controls.
Economists have long called for self-driving commercial vehicles, as the new technology could raise productivity in transportation industry enormously.
Labor unions, however, have been fighting fiercely against the self-driving trend, worrying about losing human jobs to machines.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao also has said she is "very concerned" about the impact of self-driving cars on jobs.
"Large scale displacement of drivers is not likely to happen, especially in the short and medium term," Clarke said.