Thursday, February 10, 2022

AV Regulation Bill Hearings: case study materials for regulations, democracy and how the sausage gets made

Kansas has been holding hearings about setting Autonomous Vehicle regulations. The situation provides an interesting, publicly accessible view into what's happening across the US. It also provides an exercise in transparency compared to the process used at about the same time in Pennsylvania.

Hand writing the word Regulations

A simplified summary of the Kansas situation:

  • Walmart is using its lobbying weight to expand its "middle mile" automated delivery trials from Arkansas to also include Kansas. The bill is being considered at their request. But they confess the technology is beyond them.
  • Gatik is the Walmart partner doing the heavy lifting here. They tell a plausible story about care and diligence, phased incremental approach, etc., although without mentioning conformance to industry standards. However, regardless of the story they tell, the bill would permit other companies to also operate in the state, so what is in the bill matters beyond Gatik's statements.
  • The proposed bill is short (2 pages) and is aimed at narrow permission to do things that look like depot-to-store un-crewed logistics runs on Kansas public roads.
  • The bill omits a number of important things pointed out by various parties, so the question is how short can it be while still hitting the important points. It's clear it will be revised with various parties hammering out a revision, and we'll hear more about it later. But for now, the discussion itself is illuminating.
The testimony covers a lot of ground in terms of real issues that need to be resolved. It's worth listening to all three sessions to get a feel for what people care about.  

Kansas AV regulation case study materials:

  • The bill itself:
  • Written testimony link
  • First day testimony (proponents -- 51 minutes):
    • 00:50: Briefing on bill
    • 03:35: Walmart
    • 14:50: Gatik government relations presentation
    • 24:20: Gatik technical presentation
    • 38:20: Q&A
    • Note: video corruption at approximately 48:30-49:10 is in original stream
  • Second day testimony (neutral/opponents -- 50 minutes):
    (Times are from start of hearing. Add 1 minute for YouTube stream time)
    • 00:20: Briefing on bill
    • 01:45: Kansas DOT
    • 08:40: Kansas Police organizations
    • 19:50: Teamsters/organized labor
    • 26:35: League of Kansas Municipalities
    • 30:05: Ford Motor Company
    • 33:35: Michael DeKort 
    • 40:55: Alliance for Automotive Innovation
    • 47:15: General Q&A
  • Third day testimony (opponents -- 32 minutes):
    (Times are from start of hearing. Add 3 minutes for YouTube stream time)
    • 00:40: Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association
    • 07:10: AUVSI
    • 10:30: Technet
    • 12:45: Trial Lawyers / American Association of Justice
    • 17:40: Trial Lawyers/ Hutton & Hutton  (voice only in original stream)
    • 24:40: Carnegie Mellon University
    • 30:15: General Q&A
  • A new bill was introduced in March 2022: SB 546
  • Kansas house hearing on SB 546, March 29, 2022
    • Be sure to listen to the exchange at about 2:02:00 about whether time pressure should be a reason to move the bill forward still in need of work.
  • Finally a Kansas bill was signed by the governor: KS SB 313
Suggested activities for educators regarding SB 379:
  • Warm up by reading a news article on the bill, such as:
  • All students should watch the proponent first day testimony and read the bill.
  • Assign each student to watch one speaker for the second/third day videos and summarize the position of that person in two to five points.
    • Re-enact the hearing with each student just giving the three points to boil it down to essentials.
    • Who was the speaker advocating for (general public, special interest group, government function, etc.)?
    • What do you think that person's testimony contributed to the conversation about the bill within the committee that was different than other speakers?
    • Did you find that person credible and effective at advocating for their position? Why?
  • Assign five groups within the class, and assign each group one of the five regulatory topic areas listed in this blog post.
    • Each group comments on strengths and weaknesses of the bill according to the five topic areas.
    • Which of the elements within the assigned group of regulatory issues is addressed by the Walmart/Gatik testimony?
    • Pick just one weakness of the bill in your group's assigned area and propose a sentence to add to the bill to fix that one point.
  • Discussion:
    1. Do you think the bill's scope is just right, too narrow, too broad, or should not be passed at all?
    2. Do you think Gatik's deployment will be acceptably safe? Why?
    3. Do you think deploying this technology on Kansas roads provides a reasonable tradeoff between economic benefit and jobs to the region vs. risk to other road users and potential issues?
    4. How strong a regulatory role should Kansas DOT be given?
    5. If you could only change one thing about the bill, what would you change?
    6. Look for your speaker/topic in the follow-up bill SB 546. Did your speaker's position on your topic change? Why do you think that happened?
Pennsylvania AV regulation case study materials:
Other bills from the 2021-2022 legislative season:
Background materials:
Updates added ad hoc: incomplete and not in the time capsule

Download time capsule for off-line educational use:

  • My Kansas testimony is at the very end of the last day of the first set of senate hearings. It needs to be clearly stated that my testimony is in the specific context of this bill and the situation on the ground there. If it were a broader situation I'd have a lot more to say per the five topic list link.
  • You will notice some people, especially in earlier hearings, wearing masks due to the Covid19 pandemic. (This is obvious at the time I create this page, but in a few years it might not be as obvious what is going on with this.)

Updated 12 June 2022, Philip Koopman, Carnegie Mellon University

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