Next Secretary of Transportation Game for Autonomous Cars

Autonomous Car Testing and Experimentation

Autonomous cars are on the horizon, whether you want them to hit the asphalt or not. Ok, maybe we don’t know the exact date of their appearance on roadways all over the world, but they’re making major headway, especially as they’re becoming more widely accepted.


The next Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, has “signaled that she wants testing and experimentation to continue without much federal intervention”. Chao is following in the footsteps of current Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, with her laissez-faire approach to innovation. The next Secretary of Transportation believes for innovations, there needs to be a balance in place for the federal government.

This past September, Foxx’s department released goals for testing autonomous cars rather than specific guidelines. The goals included data sharing and human-machine interfaces. For tech companies, this means the ability to test and implement self-driving cars without the constraints and guidelines of the federal government.

autonomous-car-testingWhat does this mean for state government?

Well, great question. This means that each state has the ability to determine their own take on autonomous vehicles. For the state of Florida, they’re more than willing to let autonomous cars onto their roadways. However, for California, they’re not as willing to open their roadways. California expects tech companies to openly share their data, and to “remain transparent about where they’re testing, and when”. Although Chao has not enforced set laws for autonomous vehicles, eventually she will have to create rules. For one, if a vehicle were to in fact cross state borders — would license plate swapping have to occur before crossing the border? These are the types of questions that will need to be solved by the federal government before the cars hit the asphalt.


As self-driving cars change the way we move, guidelines must be intact to solve these unanswered questions. For now, we wait and see how the government monitors autonomous cars.