July 7, 2015 4:00 PM, EDT

Federal Standards Needed for Autonomous Technology to Excel, Volvo Executive Says

Drew Angerer/Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — For autonomous driving technologies to continue to advance, lawmakers will have to approve federal standards that address various regulations at the state level, a Volvo executive told a Senate transportation panel July 7.

“There are regulations regarding the allowable distance to follow a truck on public roadways that need to be changed to allow for further testing and demonstration. Clear, precise and thoughtful definitions must be provided,” Susan Alt, senior vice president of public affairs at Volvo Group North America, told the Senate Commerce Committee.

PHOTO GALLERY: Freightliner's Self-Driving Truck

Alt added the company is interested in developing technologies for connected and automated driving because they have the potential for enhancing safety, environmental efficiency and productivity. Eventually, automated technology may significantly change the country’s traffic system and the way in which vehicles are designed.

“With these technologies in widespread use, we will be able to more efficiently use the available road space to increase mobility and transportation efficiency. This will truly support sustainable development in the face of growing population and transportation needs,” she said.

PHOTO GALLERY: Peterbilt's Self-Driving Prototype

Transportation authorizers are expected to consider proposals this year designed to advance certain autonomous, or smart, technologies for commercial vehicles.