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U.S. Government To Invest $4 Billion In Self-Driving Cars | DrivingSales News

U.S. Government To Invest $4 Billion In Self-Driving Cars

January 15, 2016 0 Comments


The Obama administration has proposed a 10-year, $4 billion investment to accelerate the development of self-driving cars and federal policies.

The announcement was made in Detroit by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, flanked by executives from Google and automakers GM, Ford, Volvo, Fiat Chrysler and Honda. At the North American International Auto Show, Foxx said, “Much needs to be done to create the transportation system of the 21st century.”

Foxx said the Obama administration plans to ask for funding to speed up the introduction and use of autonomous vehicles, saying that it will help to reduce congestion and improve road safety. The initiative also aims to improve the U.S. transportation system and vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology, which helps cars to avoid obstacles and accidents through an increased awareness of the surrounding environment.

“We are on a course for a future where congestion will only get worse,” Foxx said, as well as suggesting that in the future, 75 percent of the American population will be concentrated in 11 “mega regions.” He said that because most accidents are caused by human error, self-driving cars will be able to eliminate many road fatalities.

“By my simply math, that means that autonomous cars could have saved 25,000 lives last year,” Foxx said.

Additionally, Foxx stated that within six months, his agency will work with states, manufacturers, and others to develop a “model” state policy for autonomous cars, with the goal of creating a consistent national policy. The fact that different states have different rules for self-driving cars has become a contentious issue in recent times. For example, Volvo issued a press release about it last October, stating that, “The absence of one set of rules means carmakers cannot conduct credible tests to develop cars that meet all the different guidelines of all 50 U.S. states.” Foxx’s move may be able to alleviate such problems.

The Department of Transportation is also encouraging automakers to ask for clarifications of existing rules, as many of them don’t work well in conjunction with autonomous technology.

There are many ongoing debates about what is currently acceptable within U.S. laws. For example, Foxx has now announced that BMW’s self-parking system, which is currently disabled in the American version of the new 7 Series, is compliant with federal safety standards, illustrating a sign that it might be enabled in BMW’s future vehicles. At the same time, Tesla has already rolled out its self-parking system in the U.S., so there are clearly some outstanding disagreements about what the rules actually permit.

The policies are part of a $4 billion proposal in Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget, which will be unveiled in full Feb. 9 and will lay out a decade’s worth of pilot programs to test and develop regulations around connected and autonomous car technologies.

“DOT and NHTSA will develop the new tools necessary for this new era of vehicle safety and mobility, and will seek new authorities when they are necessary to ensure that fully autonomous vehicles, including those designed without a human driver in mind, are deployable in large numbers when demonstrated to provide an equivalent or higher level of safety than is now available,” announced the Department of Transportation.

Although the specifics of these pilot programs aren’t yet available, it’s an exciting government move toward sorting out the ongoing regulatory complications of current and future vehicle technologies, thereby providing hope that consistent policies will be put in place in the coming period.

About the Author:

The DrivingSales News team is dedicated to breaking the relevant and the tough stories affecting car dealers. Have questions for DrivingSales News? Reach the team at news@drivingsales.com.

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