U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx says the world is treading into unknown territory with regard to autonomous driving.
Foxx was speaking during an event at the International Transportation and Innovation Center in Greenville. His visit came on the heels of the federal government's releasing policy guidance on the assessment of autonomous vehicle design, development and testing before any vehicle is brought to market.
“We are on the cusp of one of the most transformative times in transportation history,” Foxx said.
Prior to his remarks, Foxx saw some of those autonomous driving technologies in action around the ITIC test bed at the S.C. Transportation and Aviation Center. Those technologies included in-road car charging that allows vehicles to charge while in motion on the road, sound navigation, digital rumble strips and an electric bus.
“What’s going on here is nothing short of amazing,” Foxx said. “It’s a great collaboration between Clemson University and a variety of partners.”
Foxx also addressed the guidelines released earlier this month. He said the policy was multifaceted, including a 15-point safety assessment that intends to outline the expectations of the federal government with regard to autonomous vehicle design.
“If you are thinking of producing an autonomous vehicle, you are probably wondering just what we care about,” Foxx said. “The 15-point safety assessment begins to answer those questions.”
Other key components of the policy include the relationship between the federal government and the states, as well as looking at current and future regulatory tools. Foxx said there will be even more to discuss as the technology continues to evolve.
“There will be questions about cybersecurity, ethics and things like that and we stand ready to answer those questions,” Foxx said.
But he pointed to one benefit of autonomous driving and the technology being developed at ITIC: the potential for the technology to create safer transportation.
“Clearly, automation can remove one of the most critical variables in the crash rate, which is us … human beings, and putting it on a system that is safer has great promise to save many, many, many thousands of lives,” Foxx said.
Before coming to ITIC, Foxx spent the morning at the Clemson University – International Center for Automotive Research.