The DOT is seeking comments on innovation and technology related to transportation infrastructure.  -  Photo: Canva

The DOT is seeking comments on innovation and technology related to transportation infrastructure.

Photo: Canva

The Department of Transportation, through the Advance Research Projects Agency-Infrastructure, is seeking comments on possible research and development projects that could improve transportation infrastructure.

DOT posted the request for information (RFI) in the National Register and will accept written submissions received by July 21. Comments received will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov, according to the agency.

ARPA-I is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) within the Department of Defense and ARPA-E within the Department of Energy.

ARPA-I’s stated goal is to fund R&D efforts that have a "…clear pathway to commercialization and widespread cross-modal deployment within 5-10 years."

According to the RFI, “ARPA–I will augment and complement existing research and development activities within DOT's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology and DOT's Operating Administrations and will not supplant or duplicate those efforts.”

Response to the RFI is intended to inform DOT on areas of focus for future research and development programs and the need for related funding.

The safety and compliance experts at Scopelitis Transportation Consulting called the RFI a big deal. The technology focus, as well as its near-term deployment approach, have STC excited, as they explained on the firm's website:

"The trucking and intermodal freight industries, and others, have been provided a great opportunity to think about, identify and communicate new and emerging technologies to USDOT that ARPA-I could contemplate funding to make a real difference and help keep our industry and our infrastructure globally competitive."

ARPA-I is seeking information about:

  • Advanced Construction Materials and Methods
  • Digital Infrastructure
  • Freight and Logistics Optimization
  • Climate and Resilience
  • Other Areas in Transportation Infrastructure

Advanced Construction Materials and Methods

DOT’s RFI said the agency for a while has prioritized advanced infrastructure, and construction materials and methods, and points out that the Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Highway Administration are looking at the development of low embodied carbon materials and new construction materials and methods for infrastructure.

An example of innovation in construction materials and methods, the RFI notes, is 3-D concrete printing of bridges, culverts, and roadways. The RFI asks if there are other emerging areas of innovation in construction and materials that ARPA-I should consider funding.

Digital Infrastructure

ARPA-I acknowledges the growth of technology and its impact on the transportation sector, noting advances include such things as mapping, sensing, connectivity, communications, networking, and computation. Examples of uses of digital infrastructure include advanced centralized traffic management systems, advanced driver assistance systems, GPS or GNSS applications, machine vision, and artificial intelligence.

The RFI seeks to learn if there are new and emerging areas of innovation related to digital infrastructure and, if so, why those should be funded.

Freight and Logistics Optimization

Pointing to lessons learned during COVID-19 in the logistics arena related to the fragile nature of transporting goods, the RFI seeks to learn about new and emerging innovations related to freight and logistics. The agency asks if there are such innovations and why DOT should fund them.

Climate and Resilience

Because transportation infrastructure can be vulnerable to damage from climate-related events such as droughts and floods, the RFI is seeking input on any new technologies related to climate that can boost resiliency.

The DOT Climate Change Center is already researching the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, the reduction of embodied carbon in infrastructure materials, and increasing physical and cyber resilience across the transportation system. However, the RFI seeks to learn about additional climate and resilience possible research areas and why they should be funded.

Other Areas in Transportation Infrastructure

DOT also asks, in general, if there are other areas of innovation that should be funded related to transportation infrastructure.

This article was corrected on July 13 to clarify that while Scopelitis Transportation Consulting is a subsidiary of transportation law firm Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary, the consultants at STC are not attorneys working for the law firm.

About the author
Wayne Parham

Wayne Parham

Senior Editor

Wayne Parham brings more than 30 years of media experience to Work Truck's editorial team and a history of covering a variety of industries and professions. Most recently he served as senior editor at Police Magazine, also has worked as publisher of two newspapers, and was part of the team at Georgia Trend magazine for nine years.

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