A new Republican presidential candidate is calling for a federal investigation into the use by some American states of “smart trikes” that are often seen as a cheaper alternative to the traditional car.
Mike Huckabee, who is running in 2020 for president of the United States, said Wednesday he would create a task force of U.S. governors and other officials to explore ways to create the technology.
“This technology is going to be part of every single driverless vehicle that’s going to come out,” Huckabee said at a news conference in Iowa.
“We need to get our heads around this technology.”
The term “smart tricycle” is used by some states to describe trikes that are capable of driving themselves, but have no steering or braking.
Huckabee said that while such a vehicle may be a cheaper option than the car, it could still have some drawbacks, including the need for the driver to sit still in order to steer.
“We need some sort of oversight, to see if this is the right way to go,” he said.
“I think we’ve got to look at it and see if we can make it a better alternative for our economy.”
In a recent report from the Federal Highway Administration, the agency found that smart tricycles have been used by a small number of drivers, including for personal transport, but not in all cases.
The report found that “about two-thirds of the vehicles in use for transportation between May 2013 and July 2015 were equipped with steering-only systems,” meaning the driver was not required to remain in control of the vehicle at all times.
The other third of vehicles were equipped to control steering only, but in about one-quarter of cases, the driver sat in a position that made steering less important than for traditional vehicles, according to the agency.
Huckabee said that there should be some form of oversight of the technology so that it is not being abused.
“The best way to make sure we don’t abuse it is to make it safe,” he added.
The former Arkansas governor, who has been campaigning in Iowa, has also suggested that autonomous vehicles may not be good for the environment, and suggested that they could be more expensive than other forms of transportation.
He also said that “we need to be looking at the long-term impact of the use” of smart tricycle technology on the environment.
The federal government’s decision not to regulate the technology is one of the main hurdles that has slowed the industry’s development.
The Federal Highway Safety Administration, which regulates the technology, is currently considering a proposal that would impose a fine on companies that fail to make changes to prevent dangerous collisions between smart tricikes and traditional vehicles.
The proposed fines could range from $2,500 to $15,000 for a first offense and from $100,000 to $500,000 per violation.