The United States government is proposing nearly US$4 billion over 10 years for pilot programs to test connected vehicle systems in designated corridors throughout the country.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement on Thursday that the investment would “accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation through real-world pilot projects.”
“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,” said Foxx in the statement from the U.S. Department of Transportation. “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.”
Besides being used to test connected vehicle systems, the money will be used to “ensure a common multistate framework for connected and autonomous vehicles.”
Foxx also unveiled policy guidance that updates the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2013 preliminary policy statement on autonomous vehicles. The new guidance “reflects the reality that the widespread deployment of fully autonomous vehicles is now feasible,” the statement said.
“NHTSA is using all of its available tools to accelerate the deployment of technologies that can eliminate 94 % of fatal crashes involving human error,” said NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind. “We will work with state partners toward creating a consistent national policy on these innovations, provide options now and into the future for manufacturers seeking to deploy autonomous vehicles, and keep our safety mission paramount at every stage.”
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. The NHTSA will also 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.”
Lastly, 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.”
In a statement issued on Thursday, automaker General Motors said that it supports the government/industry collaboration. “We see automation and autonomous technology leading to large advances in convenience, mobility and safety, since most crashes are caused by driver error,” the statement said, noting that it is committed to working with the government and the rest of the industry on standards.