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Report: Department of Transportation Announces Autonomous Vehicle Plan

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Jan. 15, 2016—U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced on Thursday at the North American International Auto Show that officials plan on taking several steps this year to clear hurdles for autonomous vehicles, according to a report by Automotive News.

"We are on the cusp of a new era in automotive technology with enormous potential to save lives, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transform mobility for the American people," Foxx said in a statement, according to the report. "Today's actions and those we will pursue in the coming months will provide the foundation and the path forward for manufacturers, state officials and consumers to use new technologies and achieve their full safety potential."  

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) current standards would prohibit autonomous vehicles to drive without a driver. Foxx said that the Department of Transportation (DOT) is willing to grant exemptions from these standards to allow for fully autonomous vehicles if they offer greater safety than a car driven by a human.

In order to get to that point, the DOT will take action over the next several months. The first step taken by NHTSA was to update its preliminary policy statement on autonomous cars from 2013, which was released on Thursday. Within the next few months, the NHTSA will develop policy guidance outlining exactly what constitutes the safe operation of autonomous vehicles, including how the safety will be tested and measured. The NHTSA will also investigate whether it needs new authorities to allow for large numbers or autonomous vehicles.

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