With autonomous shuttles in their eyes, Nebraska lawmakers examine two new bills

The legislation would allow driverless testing to support local transit pilot projects.

With dozens of states having passed or proposed legislation for autonomous vehicles, Nebraska is catching up to the trend with two bills being reviewed by the legislature Tuesday that would open its public roads for testing.

Legislative Bill 1122, introduced by Republican Sen. Tyson Larson, would permit researchers to test vehicles on state roadways as long as a driver could monitor the vehicle and take over during emergencies. The bill also proposes that autonomous vehicle researchers would need to hold at least $10 million in total liability insurance.

Legislative Bill 989, introduced by Democratic Sen. Anna Wishart, would enable researchers to test autonomous shuttles in cities of 100,000 to 300,000 residents. Wishart told the Lincoln Journal Star that her bill would help launch an autonomous shuttle pilot in Lincoln. This legislation would allow fully autonomous vehicles to be tested, even those without a driver, as long as the vehicles operated in a designated area, went no faster than 35 miles per hour, and had at least $5 million worth of insurance coverage per incident.

If things go well, Wishart said the legislation would also allow the autonomous shuttle services to be expanded to additional locations in the city, a move that could help the handicapped and elderly find accessible transportation.


The legislature’s Transportation and Telecommunications Committee is scheduled to review both bills on Tuesday. If the bills pass, the state would join the 21 other states that have passed autonomous vehicle legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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