A bill was recently introduced in the Wyoming legislature that would create regulations for the use of autonomous vehicles on roads in the state.

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The bill, Senate File 16, would require vehicles with an automatic driving system  (ADS) to be clearly marked on all four sides that it is an automatic vehicle and that the vehicle is properly insured in an aggregate amount of at least $5 million.

Commercial vehicles with an ADS would also be required to report annually the number of miles operated, safety issues encountered, collisions, damage caused to any person or property, and any striking of a big game animal.

Those same ADS vehicles would also not be allowed to have two or more vehicles or trailers attached, can't be oversized or overweight, must link to WyoLink or other communication systems, and pay an annual fee of $10,000.

It would also give authority to the Wyoming Department of Transportation to decide if there are additional rules or regulations they feel should be instituted on autonomous vehicles.

Donald Burkhart Jr., chairman of the committee on Transportation, Highways, and Military Affairs, said while there are few autonomous vehicles currently on the road, more of those vehicles will show up in the coming years.

"Currently there are no rules or regulations for the operation of those vehicles on Wyoming roads," Burkhart said. "I would say most autonomous vehicles are in the developmental stage, the testing stage, and there's a lot of interest in testing them in Wyoming mainly due to the types of roads we have...I saw a recent study that indicated that something like 70% of people over 65 want them. That's one of the last things people want to give up as they age, their ability to drive, and an autonomous vehicle would potentially allow them to keep operating a vehicle."

While Burkhart said he isn't sure how likely the bill would be to pass in the full legislature, he does think there are areas of contention that members will disagree on, mainly when it comes to the cost of insurance and liability.

"There are issues with emergencies," Burkhart said. "If an autonomous vehicle will break down on the highway, how does law enforcement contact the owner of the vehicle, the operator...there's also issue with insurance. All of us in Wyoming are required to carry an amount of insurance on our vehicles, and how much should that be for these autonomous vehicles...Probably the largest point of contentious will be the amount of insurance carried, and there are some other issues with the bill. I believe the bill still needs a little work in order to get it through."

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