U.S. Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Reps. Fred Upton and Debbie Dingell recently called on the Trump administration to prioritize the development and testing of connected and self-driving vehicles in the president’s proposed budget for 2018.
The members of Congress sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao urging them to include $200 million in their 2018 federal budget request for facilities designated by the Department of Transportation as proving grounds for automated vehicle testing. In January, the agency designated 10 sites across the country as national proving grounds.
“The auto industry is in the midst of a seismic technological shift that will revolutionize the transportation of people and goods in our lifetime,” they wrote in the letter. “ … Ensuring that American innovators can safely develop and implement this technology will not only save lives but also solidify our nation’s position as the world leader in the future of mobility.
“Identifying and selecting these initial proving grounds was a crucial first step, but USDOT must now work quickly to ensure that testing and evaluation at these facilities can begin as soon as possible. Technology in this area is changing rapidly, and only through testing can we both encourage innovation and assure public confidence in these revolutionary technologies.”
The letter calls for federal funding to help support the development of automated-vehicle proving grounds and promote safe testing to validate self-driving technologies and ensure that they are ready for use on American roads.
“Connected and self-driving vehicles have the potential to reduce dramatically the more than 35,000 lives lost on our roads and highways every year and to transform fundamentally the way we get around,” the lawmakers wrote.