Transportation Secretary Touts Autonomous Vehicles

Date: January 19, 2016

Secretary Foxx Announces $4 Billion In Spending On Autonomous Vehicle Technology

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s announcement Thursday about the Obama Administration’s plan to expedite the development and adoption of autonomous vehicles received significant media coverage. Yesterday at the North American International Auto Show, Foxx announced that the Obama Administration proposes to spend nearly $4 billion over a decade to make driverless vehicles more widespread. Foxx, who was joined by NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind and executives from Google and auto companies, said the Federal government will work to remove potential hurdles to developing autonomous cars and would expedite regulatory guidelines for these vehicles. Reports heavily cite comments made by Foxx; who is quoted by several news sources, including the Wall Street Journal, as saying Thursday, “We are bullish on automated vehicles.”

The New York Times said “until now, the federal government has taken a hands-off approach to regulating” autonomous vehicles. Foxx is quoted as saying, “We are entering a new world here, and we know it.” Politico reported that calls Foxx’s Thursday’s announcement a “landmark moment” for the Obama Administration, which “has previously taken a go-slow approach to” autonomous vehicle technology. However, Politico said that in order to implement its “$4 billion push to get more driverless cars on the road,” the Administration “will need Congress to loosen its purse strings first, not to mention potentially enact more authority for” NHTSA.

What Happens Next

Details of the $4 billion in funding will be included in President Obama’s 2017 budget proposal, according to USA Today. Additionally, the AP reported that Foxx said Federal regulators will “fast-track policies and possibly even waive regulations” to get autonomous cars “on the road more quickly.” According to the article, Foxx said the NHTSA “will spend the next six months developing guidance” on autonomous vehicles. Additionally, the NHTSA will “develop a model policy for states,” which could eventually result in “consistent national regulations for autonomous cars,” according to the AP.

What This Means For Small Businesses

The development of autonomous vehicles presents opportunities and challenges for small businesses, particularly those in the manufacturing and automotive industries. Though design and construction of new autonomous vehicles could provide business opportunities for many, the costs associated with transitioning from today’s vehicles to those that are autonomous would likely be prohibitive for many small businesses well into the future.

Additional Reading

Several other news sources cover Foxx’s announcement, including Bloomberg News, Reuters, the ABC News website, National Journal, The Hill, Business Insider, Forbes, Fortune, Investor’s Business Daily, and Wired.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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