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This article was published on January 14, 2016

Obama’s $4bn blueprint paves the way for driverless cars nationwide

Obama’s $4bn blueprint paves the way for driverless cars nationwide
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

At the Detroit auto show this morning, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx proposed an ambitious plan to lay the patchwork for what a driverless society would look like.

The plan is one that President Obama is firmly behind. Obama has pledged to insert $4 billion into the 2017 budget for a 10-year plan that enables government to accelerate and support the autonomous vehicle market.

According to Secretary Foxx, in a statement:

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.

Today’s announcement would clear some of the red tape from the path to fully autonomous cars within the next six months.

Autonomous car makers, like Google and Tesla, are currently required to create agreements with each state individually. A national guideline would facilitate better understanding between state government and US automakers through a careful mapping of very specific requirements on safe operation, error/accident reporting and at-fault liability in a collision.

Credit: Google

While the federal guidelines would help to outline talking points between state government and automakers, states will still have the right to decide on what’s appropriate. However, the new proposal could override certain state proposals, such as Califonia’s new legislation requiring vehicles to contain a driver.

The national rules, in this case, would allow for completely driverless cars.

The Department of Transportation will enable the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to allow up to 2,500 of these autonomus vehicles on public roads for up to two years, and exempt them from certain safety standards, such as requiring a driver, steering wheel and pedals.

From the agency’s release:

DOT and NHTSA will develop the new tools necessary for this new era of vehicle safety and mobility, and will consider seeking 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 they are demonstrated to provide an equivalent or higher level of safety than is now available.

While we’re not sure just yet about what this blueprint will entail, it is exciting to see the US government proposing these guidelines in order to facilitate the path to a driverless future.

Secretary Foxx Unveils President Obama’s FY17 Budget Proposal of Nearly $4Billion for Automated Vehicles and Announces DOT Initiatives to Accelerate Vehicle Safety Innovations [U.S. Department of Transportation via ]