So far, the high-profile players in the race to put autonomous cars on the road have been the familiar corporate names, and perhaps their chosen test sites. Google’s been piloting its vehicles in California, Texas, Washington, and Arizona. Apple, too, is tinkering in Silicon Valley. Uber recently rolled out its first passenger-carrying fleet in Pittsburgh. Ford is testing out their robo-cars at University of Michigan’s “M-City” driving grounds, while Tesla’s already got “driver-assisted” Autopilot-equipped cars on highways all over the world.
Now U.S. Department of Transportation is officially inserting itself into this self-driving saga, issuing a long-awaited policy guidance on regulating the emerging technology nationwide. This amounts to a federal endorsement of full autonomy, and it’s a full-throated one, complete with an op-ed from President Barack Obama in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.