United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Elaine Chao announced the federal government’s latest policy for autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, aimed at ensuring “American leadership in AV technology and integration by providing unified guidelines for the first time across the Federal government for innovators and stakeholders,” at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 8. Called the “Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies: Automated Vehicles 4.0,” the policy seeks to set guidelines for the development and integration of AVs, with a focus on protecting users and communities in the areas of safety, privacy, data security, and cybersecurity; maintaining federal government technology neutrality; protecting American innovation; and promoting consistent standards and policies. In particular, the policy seeks to unify the efforts of a multitude of federal government departments, agencies, and other bodies by “providing high level guidance to state and local governments, innovators, and all stakeholders on the U.S. government’s approach towards AVs.”

It should be noted that the USDOT is not seeking through the policy to regulate, but rather sees it as a way to foster innovation by “promot[ing] policies, guidance, and best practices; conduct[ing] appropriate research and pilot programs; and offer[ing] necessary assistance to help plan for and invest in a dynamic flexible future for all Americans.” The next step will be publication of the policy in the Federal Register, followed by a period of public and stakeholder comment.