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Statement of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Session on Shaping the Future of Mobility

Written Statement of
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
Session on Shaping the Future of Mobility
Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Our world is in the midst of a truly revolutionary era in transportation.  New technologies such as drones and autonomous vehicles are being developed that have the potential to revolutionize travel, increase safety and create new goods and services.  They also have the potential to increase mobility for traditionally underserved communities, including people with disabilities and the elderly. But the public has legitimate safety, security and privacy concerns about these new technologies that must be addressed.

In the United States, our approach is not top-down, command and control. In this Administration, the government is not in the business of picking winners and losers among new technologies.  Instead, our approach is to allow the testing and deployment of a wide variety of new technologies to improve safety, so that communities and individuals can choose what fits their needs best.

Recently, the Department announced 3 new initiatives to allow the safe testing and deployment of drones over people, beyond line of sight and at night.  The Department is also studying the question of drone security, and asking the public to make recommendations for consideration on improving the security of these new technologies.  In addition, the United States is now Number One in the world in commercial space launches.  At the direction of the President, the Department is on track to consolidate and streamline launch requirements for commercial space in order to safely integrate this emerging industry into our national airspace.  And finally, this past year the Department released AV 3.0, an updated guidance on autonomous vehicles.  It is imperative that government keep up with the rapid pace of change of these emerging technologies.

These are just a few of the initiatives the Department is taking to address the complex new world of emerging transportation technologies.  In addition, I have asked that an inter-modal technology council be created within the U.S. Department of Transportation to address new technologies that have applications across many modes.  This is important because it is increasingly evident that new technologies pose regulatory questions that cross several different modes.  The new council will expand the Department’s ability to respond and adapt to the inter-modal transportation revolution.

The Department is pleased to partner with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to share best practices on emerging transportation technologies that will increase safety and access.  The Department also takes note of, and commends WEF for encouraging public-private partnerships, which are an important option for building new infrastructure. Also, once again the Department strongly encourages WEF to make the impact of new technologies on the workforce-- and the need for effective workforce training programs-- a priority.  We also strongly encourage the developers of new autonomous technologies to step up, and demonstrate to the public the benefits, reliability and safety of these new technologies. Without education to gain public acceptance, autonomous technologies will never reach their full potential. 

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Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2019
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