US: Feds “all in” for autonomous vehicles

As it rolled out new federal agency guidance at the annual CES event, the Trump administration showed strong support for autonomous vehicles. The US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao unveiled the latest principles for autonomous vehicles from the administration that she says brings together the self-driving policy efforts throughout 38 US departments as well as agencies, Reuters reported Wednesday, January 8.

The policy document, which is 51 pages, notes that the federal government will adopt as well as spread “flexible, technology-neutral policies that will allow the public, not the federal government or foreign governments, to choose the most economically efficient and effective transportation and mobility solutions.” Chao said per the report, “The takeaway from AV 4.0 is that the federal government is all in — for safer, better and more inclusive transportation, aided by automated driving systems.”

But the administration didn’t endorse new policies to ensure the safety of self-driving vehicles. In a recent interview, Chao said per the report that the course of action of the Obama administration was “very prescriptive … and in many ways it hampered innovation.” Advocates for Highway Safety said that the “voluntary guidelines” of the administration are “completely unenforceable, will not result in adequate performance standards and fall well short of the safeguards that are necessary to protect the public.”

The news comes after it was reported that a large number of senior government officials will visit CES. The officials will visit in amid an interesting time for tech, when many government agencies are looking into big four tech companies — Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon — over potential anti-competition and antitrust practices.

Chao, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios, and White House adviser Ivanka Trump were among the 150 government officials expected to participate. Few officials visit CES, with only one typically attending in years past and none last year because of a government shutdown.

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