DOT says it will help provide guidelines & budget for self-driving autonomous cars

Fox1U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced how the Department of Transportation will support connected car safety and self-driving features with a 10-year, nearly $4 billion investment. His announcement followed, President Obama’s pledged support for a 21st century transportation system. The DOT promises to develop guidelines, state policies, help automakers with rule interpretation and provide exemptions for development. Automakers such as GM, the Auto Alliance and Global Automakers support the new effort.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says it removing potential roadblocks to integration of automotive technology safety and self-driving technology.

The proposed budget funds $4 billion over 10 years for pilot programs to test connected vehicle systems in designated corridors throughout the country, and work with industry leaders to ensure a common multistate framework for connected and autonomous vehicles.

Secretary Foxx’s policy guidance states:

“This is an area of rapid change, which requires DOT and NHTSA to remain flexible and adaptable as new information and technologies emerge. Amid that rapid change, the North Star for DOT and NHTSA remains safety. All the department’s activities in the area of automated and connected vehicles will keep its life-saving mission as their focus.”

The NHTSA News Release states:

“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.”

GM issued a statement supporting the DOT’s efforts.

“General Motors supports the government/industry collaboration to advance principles for autonomous vehicles given our shared goals for consumer safety and satisfaction. We see automation and autonomous technology leading to large advances in convenience, mobility and safety, since most crashes are caused by driver error. We are committed to working with the government and the rest of the industry on standards.”

The Auto Alliance supports the effort:

“Automakers appreciate the U.S. Department of Transportation’s efforts to remove obstacles to automated vehicle (AV) technologies. With Federal statistics confirming that 94 percent of all crashes involve driver error, getting more of these new technologies on our roads will help keep drivers safer, while also helping to avoid traffic congestion, reduce fuel use and save time and money.”

Global Automakers also supports the rapid deployment:

“Global Automakers welcomes the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) announcement to develop a nationwide approach to automated vehicles and its commitment to the rapid deployment of this transformative technology.

“Our members’ continue to make substantial investments in automated vehicle research and development. This technology promises to bring significant benefits for improving personal mobility, vehicle safety, fuel efficiency, emissions and highway congestion. We are pleased the Agency has announced a plan to develop a model state policy to help remove the roadblocks to innovation that can occur with a patchwork of state legislative and regulatory requirements.”

DOT is committing to the following milestones in 2016:

  • Within six months, NHTSA will work with industry and other stakeholders to develop guidance on the safe deployment and operation of autonomous vehicles, providing a common understanding of the performance characteristics necessary for fully autonomous vehicles and the testing and analysis methods needed to assess them.
  • Within six months, NHTSA will work with state partners, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and other stakeholders to develop a model state policy on automated vehicles that offers a path to consistent national policy.
  • Secretary Foxx encouraged manufacturers to submit rule interpretation requests where appropriate to help enable technology innovation. For example, NHTSA responded to an interpretation request from BMW confirming that the company’s remote self-parking system meets federal safety standards.
  • When interpretation authority is not sufficient, Secretary Foxx further encouraged manufacturers to submit requests for use of the agency’s exemption authority to allow the deployment of fully autonomous vehicles. Exemption authority allows NHTSA to enable the deployment of up to 2,500 vehicles for up to two years if the agency determines that an exemption would ease development of new safety features.