USDOT Launches Council to Streamline Deployments of Emerging Transportation Tech
Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao today announced the creation of the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council, an internal deliberative body at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) tasked with identifying and resolving jurisdictional and regulatory gaps that may impede the deployment of new technology, such as tunneling, hyperloop, autonomous vehicles, and other innovations.
“New technologies increasingly straddle more than one mode of transportation, so I’ve signed an order creating a new internal department council to better coordinate the review of innovation that have multi-modal applications,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao during remarks on Tuesday at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday.
The council, chaired by Deputy Secretary Jeffrey Rosen, will give companies a central access point to talk about their ideas and proposals, and NETT could help streamline permit approval and funding processes.
Inventors and investors approach the USDOT all the time to obtain the necessary safety authorizations, permits, and even funding for emerging technologies, but they often face uncertainty about how to coordinate with the department, potentially slowing down transportation innovation.
The U.S. DOT consists of 11 operating administrations, each with its traditional jurisdiction over certain environmental and regulatory approvals, and new technologies may not always fit precisely into the department’s existing regulatory structure.
“We basically have a 20th-century organizational structure for 21st-century technologies,” Chao said. “So when new technologies don’t fit neatly into the existing modal structure, the result can slow down and even stifle transportation infrastructure.”
The first council meeting takes place this week, and it will focus on tunneling projects seeking approvals in a number of states.
Rob Fischer is President of GTiMA, a senior tech and policy advisor to Mandli Communications’ strategy team, and an Associate Editor of the SAE International Journal of Connected and Automated Vehicles. GTiMA and Mandli Communications are both proud partners of the Wisconsin Autonomous Vehicle Proving Ground and the Hawaii AV Institute.