Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced plans to establish an Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation to help frame federal policy on the development and deployment of autonomous cars and trucks.
The committee will assess DOT’s current research, policy, and regulatory support to develop a strategy for safe and effective use of autonomous vehicles on public roads.
After analyzing available information, ACAT will present recommendations to the Secretary on automated and connected road and transit vehicle technologies, enhanced freight movement technologies, railroad automated technologies, aviation automated navigation systems technologies, unmanned aircraft systems, and advanced technology deployment in surface transportation environments.
ACAT will also focus on emerging and not-yet-conceived innovations to ensure that DOT is prepared for any unexpected and emergent developments in the autonomous vehicle space.
“This committee will help determine how, when, and where automated technology will transform the way we move,” said Foxx. “The Department has advanced some of the life-saving benefits of automated technologies, including automated vehicle policy, but we are looking outside the government for innovative and thoughtful leaders to uncover its full potential across all modes.”
DOT is currently seeking 15 individuals to sit on the Committee, looking for people with in-depth, cross-industry experience and perspective related to advanced autonomous vehicle technology and innovation. ACAT members will serve 2-year terms and will be nominated through an open process published in the Federal Register.
In September, DOT released the first federal guidelines for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles, outlining a safety assessment process and setting the groundwork for a comprehensive set of safety standards at the state and federal level.
Autonomous vehicles may be closer than you think, with Tesla recently announcing that all of its cars currently in production are equipped with full self-driving hardware. In a release, Tesla claimed that its current system was fully capable of self-driving at a safety level substantially greater than a human driver.
Earlier this year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk also announced plans to enter the commercial vehicle space with a battery-electric pickup truck, heavy-duty truck, and bus that would leverage similar autonomous technologies as his passenger cars.
Truck manufacturers, including Volvo and Daimler, have shown off working prototypes of autonomous vehicles. In addition, related technologies such as truck platooning are also currently being tested on public roads. Uber has also entered the space with the autonomous driving technology startup Otto, specifically aimed at the long-haul trucking industry.