Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will announce new autonomous vehicle guidelines later today.
I will update this post when the guidelines are in, but one thing we know is automakers and testers will have an easier go of things under Trump than Obama.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will unveil on Tuesday streamlined safety guidelines for automakers that want to deploy self-driving vehicles, a person briefed on the matter said Monday, as members of Congress push their own proposals to remove regulatory barriers to the technology.
The new Transportation Department policy is expected to offer the lighter regulatory touch that automakers have pushed for. For example, the Transportation Department is expected to state that automakers do not have to seek approval from regulators before putting self-driving vehicles on the road.
The new document is titled “A Vision for Safety” and will be less than half the length of the Obama administration guidelines released in September 2016 and will be less “burdensome,” the person briefed on the announcement said.
Chao is expected to make the announcement in Ann Arbor at a self-driving testing facility.
The Transportation Department is releasing its voluntary safety standards at the same time a bipartisan coalition in Congress is moving forward on legislation also designed to speed commercialization of self-driving cars without human controls and bar states from blocking their deployment.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously on a measure to clear legal obstacles that could discourage automakers and technology companies from putting self-driving cars into broader use.
The House measure would allow automakers to field up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year. Over three years, the cap would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually. Automakers would be required to provide regulators with safety assessments of their systems, but would not have to get federal approval to put autonomous cars on the road.
A group of senators introduced a similar draft bill on Friday.
“Hip” Transportation Secretary
Back in January, Wired reported Secretary Seems Pretty DownWith Self-Driving Cars, “down” meaning “hip”.
Chao, who happens to be married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is the ur-Washington bureaucrat, a woman described by those on both sides of the aisle as a longtime, competent doer. Not the sort of hoodie-wearing early adopter to embrace world-shaking visions of the future.
And yet, her performance this morning left autonomous vehicle advocates—who fancy themselves as sitting on the bleeding-edge—quietly cheering. “I think today was actually a really good indication that she’s going to keep moving in a positive direction,” says Jamie Boone, who oversees government affairs at the Consumer Technology Association.
In other words: If you’re working on getting—or simply hoping to see—autonomous vehicles on a road near you, expect calm waters ahead. During a three-hour hearing light on specifics and commitments, Chao signaled that she wants testing and experimentation to continue without much federal intervention.
In February, Reuters reported Trump Administration Reevaluating Self-Driving Car Guidance.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said on Sunday she was reviewing self-driving vehicle guidance issued by the Obama administration and urged companies to explain the benefits of automated vehicles to a skeptical public.
Chao, in her first major public remarks since taking office last month, told the National Governors Association: “This administration is evaluating this guidance and will consult with you and other stakeholders as we update it and amend it, to ensure that it strikes the right balance.”
She said self-driving cars could dramatically improve safety. In 2015, 35,092 people died in U.S. traffic crashes, up 7% and the highest full-year increase since 1966. In the first nine months of 2016, fatalities were up 8 percent.
Chao, noting research that 94% of traffic crashes were due to human error, said: “There’s a lot at stake in getting this technology right.”
She said the Trump administration wanted to ensure it “is a catalyst for safe, efficient technologies, not an impediment. In particular, I want to challenge Silicon Valley, Detroit, and all other auto industry hubs to step up and help educate a skeptical public about the benefits of automated technology.”
Chao said she was “very concerned” about the potential impact of automated vehicles on employment. There are 3.5 million U.S. truck drivers alone and millions of others employed in driving-related occupations.She also said she would seek input from states as regulators develop rules on drones. “We will ask for your input as the (Federal Aviation Administration) develops standards and regulations to ensure that drones can be safely integrated into our country’s airspace,” she said.
Chao was an excellent choice for Transportation secretary, arguably Trump’s best cabinet pick.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
James Greenberg said:
(sounds of popcorn popping in the background)
I think it is more like the ” new coke ”
and other great mishaps, no one or very few consider the American Public
Do you really want a car programmed not to exceed the speed limit ?
Do you want to be in that car ?
Do you really want to be behind a car like that ?
The cars are in their infancy, for example, not able to go across a bridge,
not able to navigate a dirt road or narrow road with no fog line or markings.
Not able to operate where snow covers the ground and sides of the roads.
Not able to operate in heavy rain.
Another example, in the north east anyway, the rotary or circle turn is common
in many roadways. Not able to navigate the rotary.
Double parking in NYC – crazy Bike Lanes AND Bus lanes and taxi’s and cars
zooming in and around and jay walkers crossing.
Pull into and park into a parking garage.
How will the autonomous car pull into and park in an underground parking garage.
It is currently impossible. Will the parking attendent be able to program the car
where to park ?
And then you have the price, currently $ 250,000 is the estimate.
Clearly the car for the elite, I can see all the subprime lenders jumping in
give us your shot gun as a downpayment.
it will be a long time coming before there is any significant number on the road.
Not in our lifetime is the likely timeline.
And then you have the price, currently $ 250,000 is the estimate.
Most of that is hype BS – Especially the price
If you are going to post pure BS expect to get called on it
Mish – you too can be called on it
Mish – One Question
What is the cost of the computer in the car.
Of course that leads to several questions how is it powered one of them.
But Mish — What is the cost of the computer in the car
Just the computer.
The entire car will be $30K-40K or so
The computer? who cares
that is a fabulous statement – wonderful
no car costs $ 30,000 now with a navigation package
but your fully autonomous car, that cannot be parked in an underground
will cost $ 30,000.00
There are bound to be bumps in the road but no way the genie will go back into the bottle.
She sounds the type to help smooth an unstoppable transition.
Nothing wrong with Chao’s action, but watch out for some sort of legal immunity (not enjoyed by existing automakers) being slipped into a bill. The real issue is going to be insurance and liability at the State level….
“The real issue is going to be insurance and liability at the State level”
I have no doubt the finest legal and financial minds are working hard on how to shift the onus onto the middle class.
Legal and insurance costs will be passed on to the riders.
I’m mixed. I get that sometimes it’s best to jump in the deep end, But I’ll be nervous crossing a green light intersection hoping the driver less car sensors don’t mistake the sun for a yellow light.
Can we have self driving cars compatible ultimately with human driven cars, and will they require Tesla like subsidization to become prevalent?
Regardless of how it happens, I see it as completely changing the automotive industry and how it interacts with its customers. Who will buy a self driving Corvette or mustang? I see self driving cars changing the very nature of transportation and it’s human cargo. It will simply become another commodity, like deciding who you buy your electricity from.
Good point about the vettes and mustangs. It may even go further and no one will own cars. It won’t be economical to have a car doing nothing overnight or while at work. It will be far cheaper to use a self drivering uber.
That’s the entire point. .
To confiscate your freedoms.
The average American won’t be able to afford an autonomous vehicle.
There are 3 things you don’t confiscate from Americans: (1) TV sets (2) beer (3) cars.
They’ll never get away with it.
Stuki Moi said:
The “autonomous” part of autonomous vehicles will either be cheap, or not at all. Like cell phones. It’s all electronics, which has always been amendable to massive cost decreases from mass production. Something that is lots less true for controls interfacing with a human’s limbs and “sensors.”
A self driving car, will also travel at max the speed limit. And won’t “need” 400hp to “safely merge onto a freeway.” It will be slower, have fewer necessary protrusions into the cabin that can be dangerous in a crash, hence can be made lighter. Hence cheaper. Ditto for operating costs, as regulations will ensure they drive economically. And the intensely intrusive self diagnostics that are necessary to make them safely self driving, will also ensure they keep themselves well maintained.
If people can’t afford them, it will have little to do with how expensive the technology is, and everything to do with Americans by now being robbed so destitute, that they can’t afford any car. And are doomed to spend their lives transported from work camp to work camp in the back of Massa bankster’s slave transporter, regardless of whether that one is driven by a robot or not..
Medex Man said:
Now that cell phone manufacturers have stopped subsidizing cell phone prices…
$1,000 price tag dampens iPhone enthusiasm in China
Survey Says Most Consumers Won’t Pay $1,000+ iPhone 8 Prices
Stuki Moi said:
$1000 isn’t really all that expensive, compared to most non-autonomous cars.
And you’re talking about the highest price cell phone. All products lines are bifurcating ever more, into cheaper and cheaper for the 05-99% that the Fed and Government is robbing, and more and more expensive, in absolute terms, for the 1-5% that are receiving a share of the loot.
“If people can’t afford them, it will have little to do with how expensive the technology is, and everything to do with Americans by now being robbed so destitute, that they can’t afford any car.”
People won’t need to afford them initially as taxi companies will be the first buyers.
I’d suggest that:
(1) will shortly be replaced by Cell Phones (I’d happily give up my TV before my smartphone)
(2) Agreed 100%!
(3) Guns for obvious reasons 🙂
Interestingly (1) and (2) have nothing to do with freedoms. A car for our generation (40+) = freedom but I’m not quite as sure it does for millennials which is why I would replace cars with guns.
They’ll get away with self driving cars because people will be begging for better safety on the roads (politicians always sell fear of hobgoblins to get stuff passed) and once self driving proves it’s better than humans (whether that’s 1, 5 or 10+ years) the writing will be on the wall.
Doesn’t matter what model, I will never buy a self-driving (i.e. Government programmed) vehicle. For long trips, I would consider simply using Lyft, but basically I fly everywhere.
A witch ! A witch !
Medex Man said:
@madash asked “will they require Tesla like subsidization to become prevalent?”
The CEO of Daimler-Benz answered the EV question last week.
With current tax subsidies, EV’s are toys for the rich. Without on-going tax subsidies, EV cars are completely dead in the water.
Given the debts and deficits of G20 countries all over the world, the prospects are zero for tax-subsidies that can allow widespread EV sales.
Debt service and entitlements are going to overwhelm G20 budgets … there is no room for anything else.
Yes, electric vehicles are not energy efficient at all and live on tax subsidies. Widespread deployment would require trillions in infrastructure investment. Not going to happen.
Cessie Bat said:
I HAVE QUESTIONS THAT I BELIEVE HAVE NOT BEEN ANSWERED.
COULD A 6 YEAR OLD JUMP INTO A T.RACTOR TRAILER AND “DRIVE”/OPERATE IT?
CAN THIS TYPE OF VEHICLE BE STOPPED BY OUTSIDE SOURCES/SMART CONTROL? OR EVEN CHANGE ITS DESTINATION?
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY CAN THIS AUTOMATIC DRIVE BE OVER RIDDEN?
ARE THE “WORKINGS” ACCESSIBLE TO DIY’ERS LIKE ME FOR REPAIRS/TUNE UPS?
WOULD SERVICING FOR REPAIRS/TUNEUPS/RECALLS BE LIMITED TO ONLY FRANCHISED SHOPS?’
WOULD PARTS BE AVAILABLE LOCALLY IN ‘AUTO PARTS SHOPS’ OR USED PARTS IN SALVAGE YARDS?
I’M SURE I WILL HAVE MORE QUESTIONS IN THE COMING DAYS.
Q. COULD A 6 YEAR OLD JUMP INTO A TRACTOR TRAILER AND “DRIVE”/OPERATE IT?
A. No – obviously – Unless the kid had the key to start the tractor and tell it what to do
Q. CAN THIS TYPE OF VEHICLE BE STOPPED BY OUTSIDE SOURCES/SMART CONTROL? OR EVEN CHANGE ITS DESTINATION?
A. Depends on how it’s programmed
Q. IN CASE OF EMERGENCY CAN THIS AUTOMATIC DRIVE BE OVER RIDDEN?
A. Same question as above. Same answer as above
Q. ARE THE “WORKINGS” ACCESSIBLE TO DIY’ERS LIKE ME FOR REPAIRS/TUNE UPS?
A. Software no. Hardware the same as before. I believe this is obvious. I will add there are almost no moving parts in an electric engine so when things are electric there will not be a need to fiddle with things
Q. WOULD SERVICING FOR REPAIRS/TUNEUPS/RECALLS BE LIMITED TO ONLY FRANCHISED SHOPS?’
A. Same answer as above
Q. WOULD PARTS BE AVAILABLE LOCALLY IN ‘AUTO PARTS SHOPS’ OR USED PARTS IN SALVAGE YARDS?
A. Who knows but no one would want to use damaged autonymous equuipment
Q. I’M SURE I WILL HAVE MORE QUESTIONS IN THE COMING DAYS.
A. I suppose – but most of those were silly or obvious
Next time, think a bit first and DO NOT USE ALL CAPS or I will delete the comment without reading it
To simplify, anyone who has the key or unlocking device could operate the vehicle, including 6 year olds. Repairs will be limited to a limited number of providers, as is already the case in most instances, and will be expensive.
“Take me to Disney World !”
“Yes master. Estimated time of arrival in twenty three hours, fourteen minutes, and seventeen seconds. Doors will be bolted for the entire journey. Have a nice journey.”
Good point. Going down the interstate and see a rest stop and decide you need to whiz. You have one minute at 60 mph to figure out how to tell your automated vehicle to turn into the next rest stop.
One minute to say, “Car, I need a rest room”.
Seconds to be replied ” The forward lever to the left of the seat under the trim may be pulled right to lower the seat level, left to increase the seat level, down to move the seat forward, and up to move the seat back. The handle beneath the glove box does not move the seat but is used to tune wiper speed. If wiper speed is the problem do not use that handle but contact technical service as soon as possible. The knob to the left of the seat will lower the angle of the…”
” Look computefk, I really need to go man ”
” The vehicle is in motion, speed is monitored to optimise journey length and comply with regulatory requirements, commands that do not respect these requisits must be ignored. According to code fifteen of autonomous protocol repeated demands will lead to notification of official disciplina…..”
” There has been a liquid release over the cntrf citchuit ghbjk bjjjj bzbzbz j when bhgg notify hgggg vehicle must now gfddhh. Pleaszzz tighten your seatbelts now. “
People will be banging out after market motors in no time.
The electronics are going to be a bitch.
With all the mechanicals in place, I could pimp the electric side to restore complete control to the owner. Yeah, it would void the warrantee, but it will be MUCH more fun.
Cessie Bat said:
SORRY FOR THE CAPS. I DO NOT SEE WELL THEREFORE THE CAPS.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR CURT ANSWERS. TOO BAD YOU KNOW SO LITTLE ABOUT ELECTRICTY BUT I DO ENJOY YOUR EDITORIALS.
I agree. Hope to see it in all forms of transportation. Boats too. Just found out Two friends were in a severe wreck on Lake of the Woods this past weekend. He’s ok her not so much. Waiting on our knees praying for a miracle out of a senseless tragedy.
If there’s anywhere this robot transportation technology could be helpful it would definitely be on smaller personal boats where often times booze or drugs would stop operation anytime during the day or night.
Medex Man said:
Or… you could stop driving under the influence
The new definition of freedom is to be able to act stupidly without consequence. Protecting us from ourselves…. somebody’s got to do it.
It’s the government’s version of childproofing your home.
‘In the first nine months of 2016, fatalities were up 8 percent.’
How many were using their cell phones at the time of the crash?
After plunging in the previous decade…
Medex Man said:
Meanwhile, Daimler-Benz (aka Mercedes) admitted last week that electric powered vehicles are simply unworkable (financially speaking) on their own merit. Even with massive taxpayer subsidies, they are expensive toys for the rich.
Maybe someday LONG in the future, but the silly pipe dreams of Europe and California to eliminate fossil fuel (gasoline) powered by 2040 is a non-starter.
Pimped out golf carts in retirement communities? That happened 20 years ago.
But EV vehicles in use wide-spread? Not economically feasible, not even under extremely optimistic G7 budget fantasies.
As for Google “First, be as evil and oppressive as possible” and its ilk — they can offer self-driving spy mobiles. But as more people realize that Google censors information from consumers while spying on consumers for both unelected bureaucrats and private advertisers…
Lastly, there is a court case in California against GrubHub. A delivery guy is suing GrubHub, saying he is not an independent contractor but an employee — meaning he should get all sorts of benefits from the company. Obviously GrubHub “employs” a lot more than 50 “contractors”, so they should be paying Obamacare too.
Uber is a different business, but they have the same legal problem that their “independent contractors” are not really independent in the eyes of the law.
No one on Wall Street thinks either company is financially viable if they have to treat their employees as legal employees (as opposed to independent contractors as now). Indeed, 100% of Uber’s advantage right now comes from not paying its drivers.
Self driving cars cannot get out of themselves to hand you your pizza or other “grub”. Anyone who has tried Siri (or Echo or whatever other voice activated mistake) knows that an automated taxi that has to get destination from passengers is not going to happen.
And the debate over how self driving cars could even function outside of cities rages on, even inside of companies that are designing the things. Google’s engineers say that driving within a city (clearly marked roads and signals and such) is probably doable… but suburbs and snow or rural areas and mud are not possible in the near future. That is not the opinion of a financial market blogger, it is the opinion of the AI researchers who invented this stuff. Driving outside of major cities is a lot more than 5 years away according to the people who design self driving cars.
For those old enough to remember, the Disney monorail was going to replace transportation as we knew it. So was the Segway scooter.
Anyway, if the futurists were correct — we would all have flying cars like the Jetsons by now. And Rosie the robot maid too.
“Even with massive taxpayer subsidies, they are expensive toys for the rich.”
Agreed. They should concentrate on the ‘driverless’ part and forget about electric cars for now.
Mike Cortopassi said:
I watched an interesting Ted talk on the ethical nature of automated driving decisions (not sure if you covered this).
Basically, a situation where the car is coming to an intersection with pedestrians and the brakes have failed. Three options 1) hit the pedestrians possibly killing one or more, 2) veer into a wall, with near certainty of killing the driver 3) veer into a side alley with one pedestrian likely killed.
Algorithms on how that is decided sure will be interesting!
On another topic, did you ever get good eclipse photos? We went to a state park about 25 miles south of St. Louis and the weather was damn hot, but clear.
It was extremely hot and humid
The best eclipse images I saw were from a plane
The next nest were all from Idaho
I did not like mine enough to post but they were similar to some I saw in news media.
An exciting event to see but 96 degrees and extremely humid weather made things difficult.
Plus I had problems of my own and only managed a handful of images during the eclipse.
Hey Mike. Ethics are already being programmed into these Autonomous systems. I have mentioned this several times on this site. I can tell you that animals don’t fare well in current systems, if there are also humans that might get hurt. However, one of the complexities to consider, is whether you would want to get in an Autonomous car if you knew there was a tiny chance that it would choose to turn into a wall and injure you, rather than run into a crowd of people (yes, these scenarios are being worked on all the time).
Ethics are whatever government deems appropriate, as defined by “living documents”.
Ask Bill or Hillary or Comey what are appropriate ethics. We don’t need no stinking king algorithms to tell us.
John Smith said:
The self-driving system that can tell the difference between a small child and a large dog? Right……
I am still waiting for the cartoon moment when Wylie looks down and sees he’s hundreds of feet up in the air… Self-driving cars my hat!
James Greenberg said:
The current human-generated algorithms thought up in the blink of an eye under extreme duress are obviously far superior to anything a programmer could dream up. Facepalm.
James Greenberg said:
Y’all are off your game. (puts another bag of popcorn in the nuke)
Jarheah John said:
Motorcyclists…Bikers everywhere unite!…..If you don’t have a favorite Deity or Talisman at your disposal, now is the time to seek one out…These headless vehicles are coming for YOUR head….
John Smith said:
Don’t worry – there will be self-driving motorcycles too!
Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..
Issue 1, Autonomous: This is definitely going to happen, though not as quickly as our host suggests. But the time line isn’t worth arguing about. It’s going to happen and it is going to bring monumental change to our world (both good and bad). I continue to believe that the benefits will dwarf the problems. And it will apply to all types of transport; air, rail, ships, etc. (Though I’m not sure about 2 wheel transport).
Issue 2, Electric: This is where I disagree the most with our host. I just can’t see the cost/benefit of all-electric at this point in time, though anything is possible, down the road. If I were to make a guess, it would be that 20 years from now, gasoline vehicles would be 20% of all vehicles on the roads; 20% would be all-electric; and 60% would be gas/electric hybrids. (There may be room for a few natural gas and fuel cell vehicles as well, but I believe those will remain marginal players.)
Issue 3, Who wins:
Many countries and businesses are vying to become world leaders in this technology, as the economic benefits will be lucrative, at first. Countries who embrace the development of this technology will get the bulk of the jobs in the beginning. As the tech develops over the next 40 years however, vehicles will become more like toasters or TVS, getting cheaper every year, and being built in automated factories, with few human workers (like most factories these days).
The consumer wins when vehicle prices drop from $50,000 to $10,000 over time ( just like computers, TVS, microwaves etc did).
Everyone wins when you save 35,000 road deaths each year and hundreds of thousands of injuries.
Cost savings in health care, insurance, policing, lawyers, and a hundred other benefits.
James Greenberg said:
“Even more quickly than our host suggests.” FIFY
Curious George said:
In 2015, 35,092 people died in U.S. traffic crashes.
I keep seeing people say that there will be less deaths when self driving cars arrive. Can you site the assumptions behind this claim? As far as I know, there is not enough statistical data to prove this claim.
Of course, there is no data
There are not enough driverless cars
And you do not want driverless cars because there is no data
Yet, some extremely high percentage of crashes are driver error, drunk driving, tired driving, etc.
You conveniently assume self-driving errors will be worse.
Get a grip
Curious George said:
Fair point. On the other hard, I often see people making the assumption that self driving cars won’t make new kinds of errors that humans would never make. I feel that safety will likely turn into a “six of one half dozen of the other” issue when all is said and done.
Our population is aging at a rapid rate. Baby Boomers at the leading edge are already 70 and those at the peak are 60.
Autonomous cars and trucks can solve many problems and we need to discover and fix the ‘Bugs’ ASAP.
This requires many years of tests and fixes and tests, etc.
Because of the ‘Cost of Land’ new highways are often non-economic and should not be built.
Autonomous cars and trucks are not ‘THE’ solution, but part of a set of solutions.