Anthony Foxx, the US Secretary of Transportation, was at Google this week. Being the head of the department of government that’s responsible for monitoring how we move around, he naturally got a ride in Google’s self-driving car.
“I found my way to Google’s Mountain View campus where — yes! — I rode in an autonomous vehicle with Eric Schmidt,” Foxx wrote on the DOT’s blog. “There was some initial hesitation as to who would ride in which seat, but in a self-driving car, that’s not the issue it once was.”
Driverless cars mean never having to decide who gets to ride shotgun!
As you can tell from the photos, the Google Car is very much a real car. It doesn’t go very fast, and it isn’t very big, but it’s not a golf cart, either. It’s a glimpse of the future — a future that could arrive a lot sooner than anyone thinks.
In a conversation with Schmidt, Foxx said a number of things that should have been music to the ears of the tech industry. He argued, for example, that the government needs to work more closely with innovative companies to speed regulatory approval of new technologies.
“We can help you shape those technologies,” he said. “Our transportation system isn’t the old creaky system it used to be. But if the regulatory system is too slow or too antiquated, we’re going to lose opportunites to move forward.”
So what about the self-driving car?
Foxx said that as long as it can be demonstrated that a new technology is safe, it’s then simply a question of going through a process of approval that will get it to the marketplace.
“We’re bullish on technology,” he said. “We want to get more autonomous transportation.”
Watch the entire conversation:
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