New DOT panel to focus on deploying automation in transportation
The U.S. Department of Transportation is creating a council that will make recommendations on transportation innovation, with automation and workforce growth seen as core issues.
The plans of the Transforming Transportation Advisory Committee (TTAC) were detailed in a public notice on Tuesday. The TTAC charter will be effective for two years after the publication of the notice in the Federal Register, scheduled for Wednesday.
According to the notice, the committee will have up to 25 members appointed by the Secretary of DOT for terms of up to two years.
“Members should include security advocates, academic experts, organized labor representatives, technical experts (e.g. automation, data, privacy, cybersecurity) and industry representatives. Individuals appointed solely for their expertise will be appointed as special government employees,” with no single interest group making up the majority of the committee, the notice said.
He adds that members of underrepresented groups will be included “to ensure that the committee’s recommendations have considered the needs of the diverse groups served by the department.”
Information on the requirements for prospective members and the nomination process has been detailed in a separate public notice.
The charter states that the committee will advise and recommend to the Secretary of DOT “needs, goals, plans, and approaches for innovation in multimodal transportation,” with emphasis on:
- Safe, secure, fair, environmentally responsible and accessible deployments of emerging technologies.
- Ways to promote greater cross-modal integration of emerging technologies, especially applications to deploy automation.
- Policies that encourage innovation to grow and support a safe and productive American workforce, as well as foster economic competitiveness and quality jobs.
- Approaches that encourage the secure exchange of transformative transportation data, including technology and infrastructure, between the public and private sectors that can guide DOT policy decisions.
- How the department can improve cybersecurity solutions and protect privacy in transportation systems and infrastructure.
The DOT was not immediately available to comment on the emphasis placed on trucking and other modes of freight transportation.
The ministry released a preliminary study in January 2021 assessing the effect automated driving technologies would have on the truck driver workforce. The report, created at the request of Congress, found that there is “great uncertainty” about how and when such automation may be adopted in long-haul trucking and the associated effects on professional drivers.
At a Tuesday hearing by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Buttigieg was asked about restrictions on the use of federal money for automation at ports.
“There are a lot of differences of opinion, and differences in research, about where automation actually leads to increases in productivity and where it doesn’t, and there is some skepticism about how it might work in the United States,” Buttigieg said.
“That said, there are so many things we can and are investing in that will definitely benefit port efficiency and throughput,” including $52 million in port grants to expand rail on dock at the Port of Long Beach, he added.
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