EXCLUSIVE-Two U.S. senators make new push to advance self-driving cars

WASHINGTON, April 22 (Reuters) - Two U.S. senators are working to attach legislation to allow automakers to deploy tens of thousands of self-driving vehicles on U.S. roads to a bipartisan China bill, a significant reform that could help speed the commercial use of automated vehicles.

Senators Gary Peters, a Democrat, and John Thune, a Republican, have circulated a draft amendment seen by Reuters that would grant the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the power to initially exempt 15,000 self-driving vehicles per manufacturer from safety standards written with human drivers in mind, a figure that would rise to 80,000 within three years.

The pair hope to win Senate Commerce Committee approval for their amendment on Wednesday when the panel takes up a bill to provide $100 billion in funding for science and technology research and development over concerns about maintaining U.S. competitiveness with China.

The amendment would also allow self-driving companies to disable human driving controls in vehicles when in full self-driving mode. (Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)