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Maine to consider self-driving shuttles

The Maine legislature is considering a bill that would help pave the way for self-driving buses throughout the state.

Representative Heather Sanborn of Portland sponsored L.R. 2611, which would allow communities to partner with state agencies on pilot programs for autonomous buses.

“There is no law that expressly prohibits self-driving vehicles, but there are many regulations that assume a driver will be behind the steering wheel or assumes it will even have a steering wheel,” Sanborn said.

Cities and towns would have until March 2022 to set up a pilot program.  Programs would require a written agreement between the municipality, secretary of state, Maine Department of Transportation, and Bureau of Insurance. Cities and towns would have until March 2022 to enter into such an agreement.

Portland city manager Jon Jennings requested the bill.  He envisions a driverless shuttle connecting the Portland Transportation Center with downtown and the waterfront. “I’m a bit of a tech nerd,” he said. “I really think we need to start preparing ourselves for the future so we are not constantly behind the eight ball.”

The legislature is expected to take up the bill during the 2018 session. Link to full story in Portland Press Herald.

Photo credit: Susan Mara Bregman

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