Self-driving cars are getting some support from a much needed ally: The federal government. 

On Thursday, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that President Barack Obama has proposed a $4 billion investment over 10 years in developing and adopting vehicle automation. 

Full details about what exactly the money would be used for in relation to self-driving cars will be revealed in the coming weeks, but the Department of Transportation did say in a statement that funds would be used for real-world pilot projects to test connected vehicle systems around the country.

What's more, Foxx also announced that the DOT has committed to work with industry leaders to establish a "common multistate framework for connected and autonomous vehicles," the agency said.

This is a huge deal because it could seriously help speed up how fast self-driving cars come to market. 

Currently, companies making self-driving cars have had to deal with regulations on a state-by-state level to conduct testing. This is usually a major headache because many states haven't even addressed implementing regulations for the testing of self-driving vehicles. So automakers are kind of left in the dark about what is actually legal with their autonomous vehicles. 

In most cases, it's not that states don't want to establish some sort of rules; it's just the first time ever having to think about self-driving cars and they simply don't have the expertise to know what kind of testing, safety features, and other requirements should be put in place. 

But, now the federal government will help clear up some rules and establish a national framework so states are all on the same page when it comes to self-driving cars. 

“We will work with state partners toward creating a consistent national policy on these innovations, provide options now and into the future for manufacturers seeking to deploy autonomous vehicles, and keep our safety mission paramount at every stage," Mark Rosekind, the National Highway Traffic System Administrator, said in a press statement. 

Within the next six months, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will develop guidance on the safe deployment and operation of autonomous vehicles. This includes establishing the testing and analysis methods needed to assess fully autonomous vehicles.

During the same time frame, the NHTSA aims to create a model state policy on automated vehicles, that would ideally turn into a national policy. 

Now, nothing is final until Congress approves Obama's plan, but given that a number of major automakers plan to roll out some form of advanced semi-autonomous system by 2020, it seems inevitable that some sort of national framework needs to be put in place. Here's hoping it happens in the next six months.