Press Releases

Upton, Peters, Stabenow, Dingell Call for Federal Funding to Support Testing of Self-Driving Vehicle Technologies

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Washington, March 2, 2017 | Lynn Turner/Tom Wilbur (202-225-3761/269-385-0039) | comments

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell 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 (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney and Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao urging them to include $200 million in their 2018 federal budget request for facilities designated by DOT as proving grounds for automated vehicle testing. In January, DOT designated ten sites across the country as national proving grounds, including the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti.

“The auto industry is in the midst of a seismic technological shift that will revolutionize the transportation of people and goods in our lifetime…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,” wrote the Members in the letter. “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 thorough 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 these self-driving technologies and ensure they are ready for use on American roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 35,000 people are killed on our roads and highways annually. Connected and self-driving vehicle technologies have the potential to reduce accidents and save thousands of lives.

The American Center for Mobility was one of ten sites to earn a federal designation. Famous as the site of the former Willow Run plant which manufactured one B-24 bomber every hour during World War II, the American Center for Mobility will be a world-class connected and automated vehicle proving ground that will keep Michigan and the United States at the forefront of the mobility transformation.

The full text of the letter can be found here or below:

 

The Honorable Mick Mulvaney

Director

Office of Management and Budget

Eisenhower Executive Office Building

1650 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20503

 

Dear Director Mulvaney:

As you prepare the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2018, we write to urge the inclusion of funding within the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s account to support the safe testing and deployment of connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies at federally-designated 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.  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.

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.  It is critical that the Federal government play a leadership role in ensuring that CAV technologies are safely developed and tested in a thorough and thoughtful manner, aligned with voluntary industry standards.

The Department of Transportation, recognizing this urgent need, last year solicited proposals from facilities across the country to be designated as USDOT Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds.  The intent was to form an initial network of proving grounds focused on the advancement of automated vehicle technology.

After evaluating more than 60 applicants under a rigorous and detailed set of selection criteria, USDOT chose ten proving grounds with complementary features and capabilities.  Together, those facilities collectively form a federal Community of Practice around the safe testing and deployment of CAV technologies.

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 thorough testing can we both encourage innovation and assure public confidence in these revolutionary technologies.

We therefore urge that the 2018 budget include funding of $200 million for these USDOT-designated proving grounds.  This is the same amount requested in the 2017 budget for autonomous vehicle research.  USDOT should be directed to use such funds to support the development of these ten proving grounds and to promote the creation and sharing of best practices for safely conducting testing and operations, which will accelerate the pace of safe deployment.

Thank you for your consideration of our request, and we look forward to working with you in your new position on this and other national priorities.

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