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Obama Administration Just Pledged $4B To Encourage Self-Driving Cars

Jolene CreightonJanuary 14th 2016

Today, at the North American International Auto Show, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced plans for the development of self-driving cars. Ultimately, the government aims to speed up the process of having autonomous cars on the roads as, to date, only a few states are currently allowing these self-driving cars, which include Michigan, California, and Nevada.

The goal is to ensure that there are federal laws regarding the development of the tech.

Foxx unveiled a six-month initiative to prepare for an era of self-driving cars. Moreover, he also announced a new $3.9 billion initiative from the Obama administration’s 2016 budget to encourage self-driving car programs over the course of the next decade.

Image of Tesla's car. Photo credit: Jacqueline Ramseyer/SVCN/Augu
Image of Tesla’s car. Photo credit: Jacqueline Ramseyer/SVCN/Augu

Representatives from Google, GM, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Tesla, Volvo and Delphi—a company making self-driving technology for many automakers—were with Foxx at the conference.

Previously, Foxx stated in an interview with Recode, “On these types of questions, we as an agency should produce guidance on how we are going to approach this technology — and how we want the industry to approach it. And that guidance is being worked on as we speak. I expect in the next days and weeks I’ll be able to make some announcement about that.”

And that news has finally come it.

Foxx said that US transportation infrastructure cannot keep up with future population growth, and forecast that 75% of the country will live in one of 11 “megacities” by 2045. “If the government doesn’t change its ways, drivers in the future won’t be moving on our highways, they will be crawling,” he said. “We are bullish on automated vehicles,” Foxx said at the conference, commenting on the relatively short window of time that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has given itself.

Over the next six months, the DOT will develop a national policy with automakers on how to deal with self-driving cars. According to a release, this policy should establish “a common understanding of the performance characteristics necessary for fully autonomous vehicles and the testing and analysis methods needed to assess them.”

More information is surely to follow, and the future of self-driving cars is looking bright.

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