US to invest billions in self-driving cars – Los Angeles Times

Posted: Friday, January 15, 2016

Self-driving cars got a financial shot in the arm from the federal government Thursday, but a new report shows the autonomous vehicles have safety issues that could delay their appearance on U.S. highways by years.

Announcing the Obama administration’s pledge to invest nearly $4 billion in autonomous technology over the next decade, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said federal guidelines for autonomous vehicles will be developed with industry members and other stakeholders within six months.

Foxx stressed the importance of safety in a presentation made to attendees of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, asking, “What happens if human error could be eliminated?” But a new report from the California Department of Motor Vehicles suggests that machine error also needs to be eliminated.

The major companies testing self-driving cars on California roads reported multiple “disengagements” during testing — moments at which the human drivers were forced to take control of the autonomous vehicles.

Google, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Bosch and Delphi Automotive all reported such disengagements, some occurring as often as once every one to two miles, the report said.

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