The U.S. Department of Transportation is establishing an Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation (ACAT) to help frame federal policy for the continued development and deployment of self-driving trucks.
Autonomous vehicle design is advancing so quickly that trucks could be driving themselves on U.S. roads as soon as 2025, but experts caution that technology has outpaced the rules that would govern these robotic automobiles. Without a clear regulatory environment, engineers may lack direction for choosing the features and capabilities needed for safe operation on roads shared with human drivers.
Despite these challenges, companies like Uber and Daimler are plunging ahead in the race to develop self-driving trucks, and industry groups like the American Trucking Associations (ATA) are preparing for the advent of autonomous, commercial motor vehicles.
The DOT's new advisory committee will be charged with providing better clarity in this area by assessing the Department's current research, policy, and regulatory support on the safe and effective use of autonomous vehicles, the agency said in an Oct. 19 release. The committee will gather information, develop technical advice, and present recommendations to the Transportation Department's 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.
"This committee will help determine how, when, and where automated technology will transform the way we move," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the release. "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."
The Department is now seeking 15 individuals to join the new committee, looking specifically for nominees from either industry or government with cross-modal perspectives on issues like intelligent transportation systems (ITS), robotics, enhanced freight movement, air traffic control next-generation technology, and advanced transportation technology deployment.
Committee members will serve two-year terms, with no more than two consecutive term reappointments. Individuals interested in nominating themselves or other potential members should send materials to firstname.lastname@example.org. Nominations will be handled through an open process published in the Federal Register.