The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced the formation a new committee dedicated to guiding policy on automated tech. The group will cover everything from autonomous drones to self-driving trucks, cars, and buses, and is comprised of members of government as well as figures from private industry. Executives from companies including Uber, Apple, Alphabet’s Waymo, and Hyperloop One are all on board, as well as academics and the mayors of several cities.
The DOT says the committee is necessary for the US to “prepare for its infrastructure needs in the coming years.” As outlined in the Department’s report last year on the future of transportation, the population of the US is expected to grow by 70 million over the next three decades, accompanied by a 40 percent increase of freight volume. New transportation initiatives are needed to cope with this change and the country’s ongoing infrastructure crisis.
In the past, the DOT has established massive projects like the Federal Aid Highway Act, and current Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has spoken of similarly revolutionary ambitions (though hopefully without the socially-disastrous effects of the Highway Act). Speaking to The Verge last November, Foxx said that by 2021 autonomous vehicles will be operating “across the country” but stressed there were many unanswered questions about how these vehicles would be integrated into society. A full list of members of the newly-established committee can be seen here.