America's self-driving car lobby has gained a powerful new ally in its bid to pressure Congress into bringing autonomous vehicles to the nation's roads.
The Coalition for Future Mobility (CFM) has been joined in its quest to speed up the mainstream acceptance of driverless cars by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA), an industry trade body representing 360 alcoholic drinks companies across all 50 states.
CFM is currently dominated by auto and tech companies, eager to be at the front of the queue when the complex web of legislative and regulatory hurdles have been cleared to allow fully-automated cars onto US highways.
WSWA adding its voice to the cause suggests the US alcohol industry sees an opportunity to tackle a long-standing thorn in its side and eradicate the problem of drink-driving once and for all.
If driverless cars were introduced, the rationale goes, owners would be free to consume as much beer, wine or whiskey as they liked on a night out and be assured of getting home safely without the need for a designated driver.
Or, as spokesman Jeff Solsby put it, WSWA is concerned with finding "innovative ways to improve roadway safety."
In addition to reducing road deaths from drink-driving, the introduction of autonomous vehicles would also benefit older drivers who no longer feel safe behind the wheel and those with disabilities while simultaneously cutting exhaust emissions by making use of the latest clean tech.
California and Arizona have led the way in permitting their use on public roads but lingering safety concerns regarding the technology - still in its relative infancy despite reassuring testing - have so far stalled attempts to secure bi-partisan agreement on giving self-driving cars the green light nationwide.
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