Obama pledges $4 billion to make autonomous vehicles better

Some of today’s largest tech companies and automakers are already hot on the autonomous trail, and now the U.S. government is getting on board, too.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Thursday announced a series of initiatives that will provide a clear national blueprint for what automakers can and can’t do (i.e. testing on public roads). The vote of confidence is part of the Obama Administration’s larger $4 billion plan that will help companies produce transportation of the future.

The Department of Transportation released a new policy update concerning autonomous vehicles. It reads, in part:

The rapid development of emerging automation technologies means that partially and fully automated vehicles are nearing the point at which widespread deployment is feasible. Essential to the safe deployment of such vehicles is a rigorous testing regime that provides sufficient data to determine safety performance and help policymakers at all levels make informed decisions about deployment.

The agency will work with states to craft and propose model policy guidance that helps policymakers address issues in both the testing and the wider operational deployment of vehicles at advanced stages of automation and offers a nationally consistent approach to autonomous vehicles.

The $4 billion will be inserted into the 2017 budget, part of a larger commitment over the next 10 years to fast track autonomous vehicles. In addition to providing technological guidance, the money will ensure the infrastructure is there to accommodate our new modes of transportation.

Companies such as Google have been hard at work on autonomous vehicles, though the technology hasn’t been perfected just yet. With the Obama Administration’s backing, automakers will have the support and guidelines needed to makes our robo-car future a reality.

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