Obama will ask for billions for self-driving car research

The US government also wants a consistent set of regulations and laws governing the technology across the country

The U.S. government plans to spend almost US$4 billion over the next 10 years on research into autonomous driving and, as a first step, will come up with a set of model regulations to govern the technology and its use on public roads across the country.

The plan sets the U.S. on a firm path towards the increasing use of self-driving car technology. It's also an attempt to head off what could become a patchwork of laws that end up hampering research and development.

"Today’s actions and those we will pursue in the coming months will provide the foundation and the path forward for manufacturers, state officials, and consumers to use new technologies and achieve their full safety potential," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Currently, only a handful of states allow testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads, and they differ in what's allowed and what's required of automakers.

So, over the first half of this year, the DOT will work with state governments, car makers and others to come up with what it hopes will be a model for adoption nationwide.

The plan already has the support of some of the leaders in autonomous vehicle research. Google, GM, Ford, Tesla, Fiat Chrysler, Volvo and Delphi all joined the DOT in announcing the plan at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Thursday.

The $4 billion will be included in President Obama's 2017 budget proposal and be spent on real world pilot trials of autonomous driving technology.

The DOT and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said autonomous technology has the ability to reduce accidents and save energy, but while that may be a driving force, the government is also under pressure from automakers to clear legal roadblocks to wider use of the technology.

"The US risks losing its leading position due to the lack of Federal guidelines for the testing and certification of autonomous vehicles,” Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson said during a speech in Washington, D.C., in October.

Autonomous driving technology is already in some production cars, with self-parking and lane control features among the most common. But researchers are working on even more advanced features and many of those will require a change in the law.

For example, Tesla just launched its "Summon" feature which will automatically steer the car into a parking space or garage and bring it back to the driver on command. It works over a short distance now, but CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that it could work nationwide.

"In ~2 years, Summon should work anywhere connected by land & not blocked by borders, eg you're in LA and the car is in NY," he wrote. But current laws wouldn't allow such an unattended drive.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Google

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?