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.

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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.

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  • Scott ?Wonder what Toyota will be using when they enter the market?
  • Fred The bigger issue is what happens to the other systems as demand dwindles? Will thet convert or will they just just shut down?
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