By on January 15, 2016

2012 Lexus RX450h Autonomous Car By Google. Photo courtesy Wired Magazine.

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.

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39 Comments on “U.S. Transportation Department Seeks $4B For Future Autonomous Cars...”


  • avatar
    jkross22

    Is $4b a number he just crapped in his hand and threw against a wall or is there actually a map to explaining why that number is what is needed.

    Our tax dollars hard at work.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    Our roads and bridges are in a terrible state of disrepair and Mr. O wants “a transportation system for the 21st century”. I’m fairly certain the people of Flint, Michigan would appreciate clean water too, Mr. O.

    Ho w in God’s name does spending $4 BILLION on autonomous cars accomplish anything?

    Makes my head hurt.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Stop trying to make sense of it and the pressure will lessen.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      A lot of us are thankful the current administration isn’t afraid to embrace the future. Yes, we need to improve infrastructure, and of course spending money on the environment is important, but that doesn’t mean we should lag the rest of the developed world in developing productivity enhancing technologies like autonomous cars.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Autonomous car tech isn’t the government’s job. Infrastructure repair is.

        Priorities.

        • 0 avatar
          Waterview

          This!

          Why can’t the private sector develop autonomous cars with government providing the regulatory guidelines?

          • 0 avatar
            Dirk Stigler

            They can, and have been for the past 15 years or so. However, the private sector isn’t going to pay Terry McAuliffe millions to produce nothing at his fake green car factory, and that’s an important part of the process…

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Seems to be an oxymoron seeing “future” and “current administration” in the same sentence. Not trying to be particularly snide but its clear to me future isn’t on the agenda.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Kids can’t get health care in your future? You want more wars in the middle east? You want to burn up the planet? Go ahead and vote to ‘make America great again’

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Some standards would be good. It will be interesting to see who owns the liability as the level of vehicle autonomy grows, so I hope they include the insurance companies in the discussion.

    Driver liability = no purchase

    Mfr liability = no production

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I seems the cost of saving lives is driving very slowly.

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/nov/13/google-self-driving-car-pulled-over-driving-too-slowly

  • avatar

    I’ll ride a horse before I ever drive or ride in one of these machines…and I don’t like horses.

  • avatar
    mchan1

    The ~$4 BILLION dollars can be used for other needed things like paying down the current government debt!

    If people want to buy an autonomous car, then they can pay for it themselves instead of having the government provide tax subsidies which are funded by other taxpayers’ money!

    Let the auto companies do it the old fashion way in raising funds… loans from financial institutions, VC lenders or private lenders.

    Auto companies should STOP asking for government funds!
    US taxpayers should STOP subsidizing other taxpayers to pay anything.

    Great example… Tesla autos! Those buyers are Rich enough to not need tax incentives. Let those well off buyers buy those types of vehicles with their own money!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Paying down debt? Private lenders? You sound like you’re peddling fiction.

      This $4B just yet another subsidy to juiced in people and its not even that much (they blew up Ukraine with 5 as i recall). Ultimately you’re asking for a real economy and governance. Those things went out the window in 2008.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Debt is good.

    *Official U.S. National Debt was 9 trillion USD in 2008 will be 21.6 trillion USD in January of 2017.

    (Unofficial and more accurate debt level is 130 trillion to 210 trillion if one includes unfunded future entitlements – see Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston Univeristy).

    Growing debt is good because it increases tax and economic burdens on future generations while causing higher prices for present and future ones, especially if the government is DEFICIT SPENDING (i.e. spending more than it takes in each fiscal year, thus dramatically continuing to drive up debt levels), which means that it has to borrow from many foreign governments and entities (in addition to domestic creditors).

    Prime the printing press, though, and the debt ends up being inflated away at some tipping point, ala Argentina.

    Krugman is helping Japan stay in its 27 year ongoing economic funk via Quantitative Easing as I write this.

    Go Debt!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Did you tell me you knew people out at the Palms in Las Vegas or am I mistaken?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Yes. I know many promoter types who have many comps to spend at at 4 different LV casino-resorts.

        For purely a room, food, drink & party time, Palm and an off strip place called Green Valley Ranch are balls out.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I’m going to be in LV from March 10th to the 15th and I found a link which said there was going to be a bout of some kind on March 12th at the Palms but it was TBA. I’d love to see some live boxing even if it wasn’t Pacquiao’s final fight on April 9th, and I was just curious if you knew anything about it (or could find out).

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            All I was able to find:

            “TGB was granted a March 12 date at the Palms Hotel and Casino for a date on Showtime, but that venue is much smaller and would presumably not be for Thurman-Porter.”

            http://www.boxingscene.com/ufc-197-supplants-thurman-porter-35-date-mgm-grand–100251

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That was a 404. This is what I found:

            http://www.boxinginlasvegas.com/upcomingevents.html

            MARCH 12

            PALMS HOTEL
            TGB PROMOTIONS-SHOWTIME

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Yeah, it’s doing weird 404 thing.

            Here is text:

            “Updated at 05:59 PM EST, Tue Jan 12, 2016 Read More By : Mobile Version

            UFC 197 Supplants Thurman-Porter for 3/5 Date at MGM Grand
            by David P. Greisman
            The highly anticipated collision between welterweights Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter won’t be taking place at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on March 5.
            That’s where and when TGB Promotions — one of the promoters working regularly on shows involving fighters signed with adviser and “Premier Boxing Champions” founder Al Haymon — wanted the card to be.
            But then the Ultimate Fighting Championship put in a request for UFC 197 to be at that place on that day, a huge card that is reported to have one big star, Conor McGregor, fighting Rafael dos Anjos in the main event while Holly Holm, the woman who knocked out Ronda Rousey, would take on Miesha Tate in a co-feature, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
            That effectively nudged Thurman-Porter elsewhere. No announcement has been made yet about where and when.
            TGB’s initial request for March 5 was removed from the commission’s agenda for its meeting on Jan. 12. TGB was granted a March 12 date at the Palms Hotel and Casino for a date on Showtime, but that venue is much smaller and would presumably not be for Thurman-Porter.
            A fight between the two young 147-pounders has been talked about for some time. When it finally looked as if it was likely to happen next, Porter and his father/trainer, Kenny, took to calling out Thurman, who they claimed had gone missing and was avoiding them.
            Thurman, 27, is 26-0 with 22 KOs and last fought in July, stopping Luis Collazo in seven rounds. Porter, 28, is 26-1-1 with 16 KOs. The former titleholder has won two straight since dropping a majority decision and his belt to Kell Brook in 2014. He stopped Erick Bone in five rounds in March, then outpointed Adrien Broner last June.”

            http://www.boxingscene.com/ufc-197-supplants-thurman-porter-35-date-mgm-grand–100251

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            At end of link, put TWO hyphens — in between grand & 100251

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks for all of that information. I will have to keep watching the venue for an announcement and tickets.

            Hey, both Styx and Megadeath are playing there in Jan and Feb.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            No Rush or Garbage, though.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Sadly, no. Apparently Rush was just on tour last summer and played the MGM. Garbage has yet to announce anything about a 2016 tour other than they will play Rockavaria in Munich at the end of May. Pity that whole area went to sh*t.

  • avatar
    Duaney

    Some of the comments refer to $4 Billion for the autonomous cars. The article clearly says $4 Billion just to formulate the RULES AND REGULATIONS for autonomous cars. Another gigantic waste of tax dollars! I sure hope saner heads prevail. What needs to be done to save lives, get the drunk drivers off the road, we still allow them to slaughter innocent people! Use the money to repair our dangerous roads, potholes big enough to swallow a Smartcar. Let the manufacturers submit rules and regulations for the autonomous cars, they can do a better job than the government, and for a fraction of the cost. Truly, the lunatics are running the asylum!

  • avatar
    callmeishmael

    The companies pouring money into autonomous cars are going to be shocked when they find out that it’s one thing for people to tell a pollster that they’d buy or use an autonomous car and quite another for them to actually do it.

    The $4Bn is to develop the biggest, ugliest “AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE” stickers they can and then decide where and how many of them have to be plastered on the autonomobiles.

  • avatar
    VicMik

    If you thought gov’t mandates for ABS, airbags and pedestrian safety made cars ugly and more expensive just wait until automation becomes a mandatory “feature”.

  • avatar
    ixim

    400 million a year for ten years to draw up uniform regulations? Said regs to include certain safety rule exemptions? Just to smooth the path for driverless Uber cars? How can it take so long and cost so much to accomplish this?

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      From the amount, I’d assume that will include actual testing of vehicles performed away from the controlling hands of the automakers.

      Alternately, hiring 1000 lawyers to spend five years writing 5 million pages of rules describing how autonomous vehicles must behave in every possible roadway interaction in order to be considered legal, than then hiring 1000 engineers for another five years to write a comprehensive test specification to verify compliance. Which automakers will then be trusted to run themselves and self-certify.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar
    Roader

    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.

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