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USDOT "bullish" on autonomous vehicles, announces fast-track measures

Jan 15, 2016

A vehicle equipped with self-driving technology
Credit MARIORDO / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Autonomous vehicles promise to dramatically reduce congestion in large cities and save thousands of lives, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

That's why the Obama administration will ask Congress to budget $3.9 billion over the next ten years to help spur the development of the technologies that enable cars to drive themselves.

Foxx announced other measures that are far more likely to bear fruit, given that it's a presidential election year, and there's little cooperation between the Republican-controlled Congress and the president.

"We're committing to a six-month timeline to offer best practice guidance,' said Foxx, "and proposed model legislation at the state level."

The model legislation would help states that wish to encourage autonomous vehicle testing projects on their roadways.

Foxx also signaled his agency's willingness to make exceptions to regulations for promising autonomous vehicle technology.

"What we're saying to the industry, if you've got a good idea, bring it to us, and let's run it through the paces," said Foxx.

Foxx said the agency recently approved a new technology introduced by BMW, which allows a driver to get out of a vehicle before parking, and direct the vehicle to park itself.