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Elaine Chao: Preparing for the future of automated transportation

The Honorable Elaine L. Chao

By Elaine Chao

We are at a pivotal moment in our transportation history. What was once considered science fiction is now promising to revolutionize our transportation systems by dramatically changing the ways we travel.

One of the most promising innovations – automated vehicles – is challenging the ways we safely integrate transformative technology into our transportation systems. That’s why on March 1, 2018, the Department of Transportation held its first multi-modal public listening summit on automated vehicle, AV, technology. The AV 3.0 Summit brought together industry stakeholders, safety advocates, and public sector leaders to participate in important discussions about the future of AVs in America.

Cutting-edge advances, such as automated vehicles and drones, have the potential to significantly improve safety, increase access for our elderly and people with disabilities, and change how we transport goods. The Department of Transportation is committed to ensuring these systems are developed safely. On Sept. 12, 2017, we released updated guidance for the testing and integration of autonomous vehicles, ADS 2.0: A Vision for Safety. But this technology is evolving so rapidly that we are already working on AV 3.0, which will be intermodal and address barriers to the safe integration of autonomous technology, not just for passenger cars but also for buses, rail carriers, trucks, infrastructure and port operations.

The AV 3.0 Summit also provided a key part of the updated guidance – critical feedback from external stakeholders. The summit was an opportunity for department and private sector leaders to share valuable insights that can be built upon as innovation moves forward. This is just one of the many ways we are engaging in collaborative leadership with stakeholders across the transportation industry. In January, the Department of Transportation also published the first four of a series of notices requesting information and comment to identify barriers to AV innovation. They can be found on transportation.gov/av. Look for more to be published in the near future.

New programs and initiatives for implementing emerging technology are just part of the equation, however. Policymakers need to foster an environment for innovation to flourish in America by eliminating unnecessary obstacles to its success. At the Department of Transportation, it’s a key part of our mission. Our approach will be technology neutral to allow our policies and regulations to remain flexible enough to adapt to these rapid changes, without compromising safety, which will always be the department’s top priority.

A new frontier of transportation technology is here. The path is uncertain, but it is coming. That much is certain. So, we must work together to safeguard America’s legacy of creativity and progress, to ensure our country’s transportation systems remain the safest and most efficient in the world.

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