Elaine Chao at the 2020 TRB annual meeting (photo by Cable Risdon

Transportation Secretary Chao Highlights Autonomous Vehicles, Innovative Technologies at TRB Annual Meeting 2020

By Andrew Robinson | Jan. 15, 2020

Autonomous vehicles (AV) took center stage at the Chair’s Luncheon of the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting today. U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced “AV 4.0,” a new DOT-White House initiative created to unify AV efforts across 38 federal government entities, focusing chiefly on the potential of increased safety with less human error. One part of this initiative is an expansion of the Partnership for Analytics Research in Traffic Safety (PARTS) program, which is a data-sharing partnership between the government and private sector to collaborate on safety analysis. The program will expand to nearly 70 percent of the U.S. automobile market, allowing private-sector partners to learn from each other and prevent safety issues.

“The potential appeal of AVs is its ability to save thousands of lives every year,” said Chao. “AVs could also restore mobility for millions of people who face transportation challenges, such as the elderly and people with disabilities.”

Chao also announced a new pilot program to deploy vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. Known as vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication, this program is aimed at assisting emergency response vehicles and transit vehicles along with related infrastructure with V2X technology. These systems will use the spectrum allocated in the 5.9 gigahertz band to transportation safety-related communications.  With AV and driver-assistance technologies developing rapidly, Chao said DOT will focus on both regulating the continuously changing transportation landscape while also taking advantage of new potentially lifesaving technological innovations.

Chao’s full remarks are available here.

TRB is a program unit of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine — private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. The Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.