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article imageU.S. proposes spending $4 billion on driverless car technology

By Karen Graham     Jan 15, 2016 in Technology
The U.S. government is sticking its neck out and officially giving driverless car technology a great big vote of confidence. The Obama administration is proposing that $3.9 billion be spent to accelerate acceptance of self-driving cars.
The Obama proposal would have to be approved by Congress, and aims to get federal regulators working with automotive manufacturers and others to map out policies and rules governing vehicles that move without a driver at the wheel, reports Fox News.
According to, this would involve creating pilot programs across the country to test "connected vehicle systems." This technology is already in operation through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Programs Office.
In Europe, Volvo Car Corp. and other car makers have been expressing frustration over Europe's lack of consensus on regulations for driverless car technologies, where as in Japan, industry officials are hopeful of swift action by the government on drafting regulations. This seems to be the one major hurdle in the connected-car technologies going forward.
Not only that, but everyone wants to avoid a patch-work of rules issued on a state-to-state basis by giving automakers a clear cut national road-map for approving the autonomous vehicles. It isn't clear whether the Congress will approve the funding, but according to the Wall Street Journal, regulators say they plan to issue guidance within six months on the preferred performance characteristics and testing methods for driver-less cars.
Then they plan to collaborate with state officials on policies, which seems like a waste of time and effort if car makers are trying to avoid the patch-work of state-by-state rules they talk about. California already is seeking to require all vehicles to contain a driver, effectively barring driver-less cars from state roads.
Speaking at the Detroit Auto Show on Tuesday, Department of Transportation head Anthony Foxx said, driverless cars could ease the congestion on roads as well as improve safety. In having nationwide regulations, Foxx said, “That is a possibility worth pursuing."
How soon will self-driving cars be seen on America's highways?
Americans bought a record 17.5 million vehicles in 2015, spurred on by falling gas prices and low interest rates. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), People are responsible for about 94 percent of traffic accidents on our highways.
The Obama administration is looking to encourage improved technologies that would not only lead to improved safety on our highways, but reduce the more than 32,000 annual traffic fatalities. Driverless car technologies are being worked on by a number of automotive companies, including Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Tesla, who have autonomous cars in the works, as do Google and parts suppliers Delphia and Bosch. It's just a matter of time.
More about driverless cars, White house, vote of confidence, lack of clear guidance, Technologies
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