01.23.18

Peters, Stabenow Lead Bipartisan Call to Fund Testing and Development of Self-Driving Cars in Government Spending Deal

Funding will allow facilities like American Center for Mobility at Willow Run to reach maximum potential

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today led a bipartisan call to fund the testing and development of connected and self-driving cars as part of any government spending deal that is negotiated for 2018.  The Senators made their request in a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, Urban Development, and Related Agencies, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI), respectively.  U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) also signed the letter. 

“Connected and automated vehicles are being developed internationally, and we risk the erosion of our leadership position if we do not take steps to facilitate the continued advancement of these technologies in the United States,” wrote the Senators. “USDOT [United States Department of Transportation], recognizing this urgent need, last year solicited proposals from facilities across the country to be designated as Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds.  After evaluating more than 60 applicants under a rigorous and detailed set of selection criteria, USDOT chose ten proving grounds [including the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run.]

“Identifying and selecting these initial proving grounds was a crucial first step, but USDOT must now be given the resources to use these facilities to their maximum potential and pave the way for the safe deployment of these technologies,” the Senators continued. “We therefore urge robust funding for research and development of CAV [connected and automated vehicle] technologies. Furthermore, USDOT should be directed to use such funds for safety research and testing at the USDOT-designated proving grounds.”

The American Center for Mobility, located at the former Willow Run Site in Ypsilanti Township, is a purpose-built facility designed for research, education, testing, standards-convening, product development, validation and self-certification for connected and automated technologies as well as future mobility.  Senators Stabenow and Peters joined state officials and automotive leaders to break ground on the new facility in November 2016 and the facility opened for initial testing in December 2017.

Text of the letter can be found below and here.

January 18, 2018

 

The Honorable Susan Collins

Chair

Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Senate Committee on Appropriations
184 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable Jack Reed

Ranking Member

Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Senate Committee on Appropriations
125 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 2051

Dear Chairman Collins and Ranking Member Reed: 

As you move toward conclusion of the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) appropriations process, we write to express our strong support for robust funding for the testing and development of connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology at the proving grounds officially designated by the Department of Transportation (USDOT).

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 cars can dramatically reduce the more than 37,000 lives lost on our roads and highways every year and fundamentally transform 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. Connected and automated vehicles are being developed internationally, and we risk the erosion of our leadership position if we do not take steps to facilitate the continued advancement of these technologies in the United States. It is critical that the Federal government play a leadership role in ensuring that CAV technologies are safely developed and tested.

USDOT, recognizing this urgent need, last year solicited proposals from facilities across the country to be designated as 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. Together, those facilities collectively form a federal Community of Practice around the safe testing and deployment of CAV and related data technologies.

Identifying and selecting these initial proving grounds was a crucial first step, but USDOT must now be given the resources to use these facilities to their maximum potential and pave the way for the safe deployment of these technologies. We therefore urge robust funding for research and development of CAV technologies. Furthermore, USDOT should be directed to use such funds for safety research and testing at the USDOT-designated proving grounds.

Thank you for your consideration of our request, and we look forward to working with you to advance the development of this lifesaving technology.