Over 1,400 self-driving vehicles are now in testing by 80+ companies across the U.S.

In a talk at the Uber Elevate summit in Washington, DC today, US Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao shared a total overall figure for ongoing testing of autonomous vehicles on U.S roads: Over 1,400 self-driving cars, trucks and other vehicles are currently in testing by over 80 companies across 36 US states, plus DC itself.

This puts some sense of overall scale to the work being done to test and develop self-driving car tech in the US. For context, note that in California, one of the first states to have implemented AV testing on public roads, currently has 62 companies registered to perform testing – which represents a significant chunk of that 80+ figure provided by Secretary Chao.

Chao also shared that there are over 1.59 million registered drones currently in the U.S., of which more than 372,000 are classified as commercial, wth over 136,000 registered commercial drone operators also on the books. That represents a net new job category, Chao noted.

The secretary also later emphasized that the DoT over which she provides and the current administration aims to be “tech natural, and not command and control” and that the department is not “in the business of picking winners and losers,” something she said the assembled audience of mostly private-sector attendants would be “so pleased to hear.

Under Chao, the DoT has introduced and continues to overhaul guidelines, rules and programs that favor and unblock industry and commercial access to autonomous driving, drone operation and spacecraft launch capabilities. Recently, Chao has come under fire for potential conflict of interest related to use of her position.

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