U.S. Transportation Department Seeks $4B For Future Autonomous Cars

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Thursday said his department would seek nearly $4 billion over the next 10 years to standardize rules for self-driving cars and make it easier for carmakers to offer more autonomous vehicles.

The plan was mentioned Tuesday by President Barack Obama during his final State of the Union address and detailed by Foxx at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The plan would create a uniform autonomous vehicle policy for states to adopt and would allow more exemptions from current safety regulations for self-driving technology.

Only a few states currently allow autonomous vehicles on their roads, including California, Nevada and Michigan.

The plan, which will be included in the president’s budget proposal for 2017, requires congressional approval first and has initial approval from automakers including General Motors, which issued a statement Thursday supporting the measure:

We are pleased to support these important safety principles, and we applaud the efforts of Secretary Foxx, Administrator Rosekind, the Department of Transportation and NHTSA to lead this collaborative approach with the automakers to further enhance vehicle safety. … We welcome the opportunity to continue to work with experts in government and industry on the vital issues of automotive safety and cybersecurity.

“We are on the cusp of a new era in automotive technology with enormous potential to save lives, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and transform mobility for the American people,” Foxx said in a statement. “Today’s actions and those we will pursue in the coming months will provide the foundation and the path forward for manufacturers, state officials, and consumers to use new technologies and achieve their full safety potential.”

Several states have competing laws or certification processes that prohibit some types of autonomous vehicle driving. For instance, California permits autonomous driving under certain circumstances, including maximum speed and with increased oversight on the manufacturer. Comparatively, Florida has very few rules regarding autonomous vehicle driving.

It’s unclear what role manufacturers will play in drafting the proposed legislation.


Aaron Cole
Aaron Cole

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  • Suto Suto on Jan 17, 2016

    Every time someone cuts me off in a parking lot, it's a 50 year old woman on her cell phone, driving one of these RX things.

  • Roader Roader on Jan 18, 2016

    The Feds are leaning towards a vehicle-to-infrastructure based system vs. the GPS/on-board sensors/precision maps system currently being developed by manufacturers. I think the biggest difference between two systems is the opportunity for graft: $400 million divided by 635 federal congressmen/women/transgendered = $7.5 million per. Even if each skimmed off only 10% in campaign contributions, there’s some real money to be made there. Campaign coffers don’t fill themselves.

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.
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