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US government unveils USD 4 billion plan for driverless cars

Anthony Foxx announcing his proposals at NAIAS on Thursday. (Photo: DOT)

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Angelo Rychel
Angelo Rychel
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Obama administration works on national legislation and proposes concerted efforts from all stakeholders.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) revealed a major proposal on Thursday to remove roadblocks on the way towards autonomous driving. The plan includes a ten-year, USD 4 billion investment “to accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation through real-world pilot projects,” according to a DOT press release. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx also announced that he will put forward a blueprint for nationwide legislation on self-driving cars within the next six months.

“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,” said Secretary Foxx. The proposal will provide USD 4 billion for pilot programs to test “connected vehicle systems in designated corridors throughout the country.”

At a press conference at NAIAS in Detroit, Foxx was backed by representatives from Google, Delphi, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, Tesla Motors and Volvo when he unveiled President Obama’s plan. Foxx emphasized that he seeks joint talks with the industry and other stakeholders on how to safely deploy and operate autonomous cars.

To allow for extensive real-life testing of driverless technology, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will consider granting exemptions from existing regulations to car manufacturers for up to 2,500 self-driving vehicles. This step comes amid a dispute between Google and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). California has just proposed legislation that explicitly requires drivers to be in the cars. Foxx announced that his department will come up with a plan for consistent national policy within the next six months.

In bringing all parties to the table, Secretary Foxx is in line with the approach of 2025AD: for automated driving to prevail, a joint effort from all stakeholders will be necessary.

Read the full DOT press release here.

Read a blog article by Anthony Foxx on the Obama administration’s proposal here.

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