Obama to talk about self-driving cars in State of the Union speech

US President Barack Obama will talk about self-driving cars in his final State of the Union address.
US President Barack Obama will talk about self-driving cars in his final State of the Union address.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

DETROIT (REUTERS, NYT) - United States President Barack Obama will talk about the prospects for self-driving cars in his final State of the Union address on Tuesday (Wednesday morning Singapore time), according to government officials, the first time the president has used the annual speech to tackle one of the most important issues facing the auto industry.

Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told reporters on Tuesday that Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will be in Detroit on Thursday "to amplify stuff that's coming out of the State of the Union on self driving cars."

Foxx is expected to talk about efforts by the Obama administration to speed the introduction of self-driving vehicles. There is not yet a clear legal framework governing their presence on US roads.

Automakers and technology companies such as Alphabet Inc's Google have called on regulators to clarify guidelines for introduction of autonomous driving technology, in part out of concern that a mishap in a self-driving car could result in costly litigation.

In December, Rosekind said he opposes a "patchwork" of state regulations on driverless cars and promised a "nimble, flexible" approach to writing new rules for self-driving vehicles.

 

Guests at his final address who will sit with First Lady Michelle Obama this year include a Syrian refugee, the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case last year legalising same-sex marriage and an Air Force sergeant who helped take down a gunman on a train in France.