A think tank welcomes the Obama administration's push for automated vehicles, but with a few reservations.
Speaking last week at the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced new initiatives on automated vehicles, otherwise known as self-driving or autonomous vehicles.
According to Foxx, the $4 billion over a ten-year plan would "accelerate" the development and deployment of automated vehicles. Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its 2013 preliminary statement of policy.
Takeaways include NHTSA proposing guidance to industry on establishing principles of safe operation for fully automated vehicles within six months. NHTSA will also work with states to propose policy aimed at avoiding state to state conflicts.
Marc Scribner, fellow in transportation policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, thinks the most important thing in this discussion is that the Department of Transportation is now taking self-driving cars seriously in a way that they weren't really in the past.
"Now, we do have a number of caveats," Scribner begins, "and certainly the devil will be in the details, particularly with respect to how that $4 billion is going to be spent over ten years.
"That is going to be a budget request," he continues. "So we may not have anything close to that. [And] we appreciate that the Obama administration ... is moving broadly in the right direction, [but] there are certainly things that they could mess up in the future and do things that could hinder the development of self-driving vehicles rather than help."
Representatives from Google, Tesla, and U.S. automakers were on hand for Secretary Foxx's announcement.