US government invests $4 billion in autonomous vehicles

Money will fund pilot projects

The US government will invest $4 billion over the next 10 years to accelerate the development and implementation of fully autonomous vehicles. The money will be used to fund real-world pilot projects.

At the same time the US Department of Transportation will seek to remove potential roadblocks to the integration of innovative, transformational automotive technology that can significantly improve safety, mobility, and sustainability.

“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 people. These 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 US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx.

The budget proposal would provide nearly $4 billion over 10 years for pilot programmes 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. Some states in the US, such as Nevada have already taken steps to introduce autonomous vehicles, allowing OEMs and suppliers to apply for licenses so that they can test systems on public roads.

The Department of Transportation 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.Click hereto read this interpretation.

- 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.

- The Department of Transportation 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.

tags: autonomous driving NHTSA Connectivity