Transportation Secretary Foxx announcing autonomous vehicle proposal at auto show in Detroit. Photo: DOT

Transportation Secretary Foxx announcing autonomous vehicle proposal at auto show in Detroit. Photo: DOT

The Obama administration wants to spend nearly $4 billion over 10 years to fund pilot to projects aimed at accelerating the development of connected and automated vehicles.  

The fiscal year 2017 budget proposal was outlined by Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx on Jan. 14 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

"Meeting the challenge of a transformation to a cleaner and more modern transportation sector requires infrastructure that reduces congestion not by just paving new lanes, but by making better use of the lanes and capacity we have," Foxx said during a media briefing at the auto show. "Autonomous vehicles offer us a realistic way of doing that."

Foxx said the administration's proposal will "allow testing automated and connected vehicle systems in different corridors and different states and to work with industry to ensure effective interoperability."

He noted that the effort is intended to involve a "combination of public and private effort" to drive innovation, just as the Smart City Challenge that DOT launched last month "gives medium-sized cities an incentive to embrace automation and connected vehicles. The president is proposing more of this type of funding to equip our cities and states for tomorrow’s transportation challenges, and we think it's a great way to move forward."

Foxx added that, “In plain English, this [proposal] means we are going to do everything we can to advance safe, smart and sustainable transportation innovations like vehicle automation.”

Following Foxx's announcement, General Motors issued a statement of support. 

"General Motors supports the government/industry collaboration to advance principles for autonomous vehicles given our shared goals for consumer safety and satisfaction," the automaker said. "We see automation and autonomous technology leading to large advances in convenience, mobility and safety, since most crashes are caused by driver error. We are committed to working with the government and the rest of the industry on standards."

Further, GM noted, advanced safety features already in use in GM vehicles will provide the building blocks for further progress in autonomous vehicle development.

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