President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address included a proposal to spend $3.9 billion on driverless car initiatives over the next 10 years.
The headline number is a little bit like an NFL contract figure — eye-popping but of questionable veracity, since Obama will only be president for 1 more year. In fact, even if the next president was also committed to the program, it still wouldn’t be a sure thing, because in year 10 there will be yet another president.
And who knows, maybe in five years self-driving cars will be a done deal and the idea of spending government money promoting them will seem silly.
So while the financial figure is welcome, the real benefit might be in the regulatory accommodations.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is making self-driving cars a big part of his final year in office.
“NHTSA said it will consider granting exemptions from regulations to automakers for up to 2,500 self-driving vehicles for on-road, real-world testing.”
There is a lot private money pouring into autonomous vehicles. What might need more than government money is government permission.
Originally published at www.davidincalifornia.com on January 15, 2016.