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Remarks by Gregory Nadeau, Administrator, FHWA

KL Gates Car Tech Event

Washington, DC

Friday, September 30, 2016

Good morning!

I want to start with a bit of context in the form of a report Secretary Foxx released last year called Beyond Traffic.

It’s a look at what the United States will look like 30 years from now in the year 2045.

First, this country will be home to 70 million more people – equal to adding the populations of New York, Florida and Texas COMBINED.

No, they won’t all be teleworking. We’ll also be moving 45 percent more freight 30 years from now.

I can assure you it won’t all be delivered by drones.

Seventy-five percent of the population will be concentrated in 11 mega-regions, mostly along the East and West Coasts and the Gulf states.

Our analysis shows that share of congested highways in the mega-regions will increase from 12 percent to 25 percent, and in the rural states in the middle of the country from two to nine percent.

Since much of the nation’s food is shipped from these rural states, their infrastructure will be put to the test.

The point is we’re going to need to accommodate what I call a tsunami of people and freight in our system without any major expansion of its footprint.

And so there’s going to be a tremendous reliance on new vehicle and infrastructure technology to help everyone and everything share the roads safely.

The goal of many of these new technologies is to prevent crashes before they happen.

As you may know, traffic fatalities were up sharply in 2015, ending a five-year decline. Job growth and low fuel prices are two factors that led to increased driving. Pedestrian and bicycle fatalities increased to a level not seen in 20 years.

But here’s what stands out in all those statistics:

In more than 90 percent of the fatal vehicle crashes in this country, a different human choice could have made the difference between life and death.

That’s the promise of automation – and why we’re so aggressively looking for new technologies that can help save lives.

We also see technology as part of the larger search for solutions that would help close the gap between rich and poor, address the needs of young and old, and bridge the digital divide so that transportation meets the needs of everyone.

This is a top priority of Secretary Foxx – making sure transportation links people to opportunity.

The Department recently awarded a $40 million Smart Cities grant to Columbus, Ohio.

Columbus emerged from 78 mid-sized cities that applied for the grant because it had the best plan for integrating innovative technologies into their transportation network and using those technologies to help close what the Secretary calls the “opportunity gap.”

Under the Secretary’s leadership, the Department has a very forward-looking strategy in place for the new vehicle and infrastructure technologies.

As you know, the vehicle side of the equation comes under the authority of our sister agency, NHTSA. They’re the ones implementing that part of the Secretary’s strategy, under the leadership of my friend and colleague Dr. Mark Rosekind, NHTSA’s Administrator.

Last week, the Secretary issued guidance for the safe deployment of automated vehicles.

The primary focus of this guidance is on so-called highly automated vehicles – those where the vehicle can take full control in at least some circumstances.

Portions of the guidance also apply to lower levels of automation, including some of the driver-assistance systems that are already being deployed by automakers today.

Here are the main elements of each section of the guidance issued last week:

  • A 15-point safety assessment to guide manufacturers, developers and other organizations in the safe design, development, testing and deployment of automated vehicles.
  • A model state policy that presents a clear distinction between federal and state responsibilities for the regulation of highly automated vehicles.
    • This section suggests recommended policy areas for states to consider with a goal of generating a consistent national framework for the testing and deployment of highly automated vehicles.
  • A discussion of NHTSA’s current regulatory tools that can be used to ensure the safe development of new technologies.
    • This includes interpreting current rules to allow for greater flexibility in design and providing limited exemptions to allow for testing of non-traditional vehicle designs in a more timely fashion.
  • The identification of new regulatory tools and statutory authorities that policymakers may consider in the future to aid the safe and efficient deployment of new life-saving technologies.

Even before last week’s announcement, the Secretary has set other work in motion, including:

  • A ten-year, $3.9 billion investment in automated safety technologies. This investment will enable a number of key initiatives to move forward, including large-scale pilot programs around the country and additional research into automation safety and cyber-security.
  • The pilots will test new technologies in a range of conditions, including the movement of up to 10,000 city-owned vehicles in New York City; the movement of vehicles and pedestrians in Tampa; and the movement of freight through I-80 in Wyoming.
  • In the area of cyber-security, FHWA is helping put together a cybersecurity partnership with ITE, AASHTO, ITS America, and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association or NEMA.
  • This will be targeted at the intelligent transportation systems and roadway operations people to advance awareness and best practices, provide tools, and help them develop the capability to identify, alert and advise system owners and operators on cybersecurity incidents.

Now, let me turn for a minute to the role of the Federal Highway Administration.

In addition to our role in cyber-security, we’re supporting the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technology Deployment program that was included in our new five-year transportation bill, the FAST Act.

The FAST Act is a significant piece of legislation, with an increase in highway funding, a five-year timeframe and a number of grant programs that are getting money out the door as quickly as possible.

The ATCMTD program I just mentioned will provide up to $60 million per year for advanced technology deployments, such as:

  • Advanced traveler information systems and transportation management technologies;
  • Innovations for public transportation systems;
  • Asset and system performance monitoring and data collection;
  • Connected and autonomous vehicles;
  • Advanced mobility and access technologies.

We’ll be announcing these grants soon.

In general, it’s our job to make sure that as technology moves forward on the vehicle side, we advance the infrastructure in parallel.

To help ensure Vehicle to Infrastructure – or V2I -- deployment, FHWA is providing national leadership, facilitating a national dialogue and developing tools so that all of us are on the same page in terms of understanding the technologies, their benefits and their costs.

We’re currently developing interim V2I Deployment Guidance. Until that work is finished, the draft guidance we released in September 2014 is still valid.

We believe this will provide a smooth and effective deployment path for transportation owners and operators who are interested in implementing V2I technology for a connected vehicle environment.

Deployment of V2I technologies is not mandated by or coupled with the work NHTSA is doing on Vehicle to Vehicle communications.

Deployments will be encouraged by FHWA, but public agencies will not be required to implement V2I technology.

Nevertheless, state, regional, and local agencies will have guidance and products available to ensure efficiency and interoperability so technologies are adopted consistently across the country.

Because these issues cut across so many lines and involve so many people, FHWA is supporting and facilitating a V2I Deployment Coalition.

It’s designed to coordinate the work of state DOTs, MPOs, county and local governments, private industry and the academic community.

We look forward to working with all our partners to bring about a smooth transition.

I want to close with one newsworthy that’s literally taking place as we speak! It’s part of the work being done to create the infrastructure of the future.

The town of Sandpoint, Idaho is unveiling a new road in its town square that’s made entirely of solar panels. This pilot project was funded several years ago by a grant from FHWA.

The panels are strong enough to support heavy trucks, have the same traction as concrete or asphalt to help vehicles stop and contain LED lights so that lane markings or parking spaces can be configured by computer. You can also equip them with heating elements to keep them from icing.

And they produce energy! It’s possible that one day electric cars could be charged by driving over the panels – another example of a future V2I connection!

Missouri and Georgia are also moving forward with solar roadway projects.

So, that’s a quick overview of the work USDOT is doing with our partners to advance the next generation of vehicles and infrastructure.

We’re excited to bring the safety, mobility and environmental benefits of these new technologies to the American public.

Thank you. I look forward to our discussion.

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