This morning, in Detroit, the US Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx announced a few things in regards to autonomous cars. The bigger announcement is that Obama’s administration is putting in $4 billion into the yearly budget beginning in 2017 for the next 10 years, which will help pilot programs to get self-driving cars on the roads. This is big news for companies like Google, Ford and GM who are all working on autonomous cars right now.
On top of that, Foxx also announced that he is giving the Department of Transportation 6 months to draft rules and regulations for testing self-driving cars. The regulations that the Department of Transportation is putting together, however, is going to be a model for the 50 States to follow. Now they can’t enforce all of these comprehensive regulations on all of the States, but they can show them what needs to be regulated. Foxx is also talking about working with the States as well as the companies in the industry working on autonomous vehicles. So that we can get more autonomous vehicles on the roads sooner. Currently, only a couple of States allow autonomous vehicles on public roads. Those being California and Texas, while other States like Michigan have test tracks for companies working on autonomy.
These announcements from Foxx show us that the government is all for self-driving cars. Currently, there are around 30,000 deaths per year due to vehicle accidents. Which can be all but eliminated with self-driving cars, as Google’s stats on their vehicles have shown us. Autonomous vehicles have shown to be a bit too safe, but that’s a good thing as it’ll save lives.
Following this announcement from Secretary Foxx, a Google spokesperson released this statement, “Fully autonomous vehicles have the potential to save lives, so we welcome the Secretary’s commitment to removing barriers that may prevent them from sharing the roads when they’re ready.” Not too surprising. We basically knew that Google would be fully on board with Secretary Foxx’s announcements here, seeing as Google has been working on autonomy for a few years now and are testing them on public roads now as well. Ford and GM have also been working on autonomous cars and may be even further along than Google.