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Transportation Secretary Announces New Council to Move Technology Forward Elaine L. Chao, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, delivered remarks at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference on March 12, 2019, in Austin, TX.

Secretary Chao noted that the Department of Transportation (DOT) would present information-sharing sessions and host three panels at SXSW. The two information sessions were “The New Urban Mobility Partnership,” and “By Land, Air, and Sea: The Future of Freight.” Panels focused on transportation accessibility, cybersecurity, and innovations in rural mobility.

Secretary Chao stressed that the future will see even safer travel, and transportation options will expand for the benefit of everyone, especially communities that have been underserved. While the DOT remains tech-neutral, it will also be innovation-friendly.

In her remarks, Secretary Chao noted that new technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, “have the potential to transform transportation”; however, creating guidance on autonomous technology in cars or trucks could straddle two or more of the Department’s operating administrations. In the case of autonomous technology, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration could be involved.

During her SXSW speech, Secretary Chao announced the creation of the Nontraditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council, an internal body at the DOT tasked with identifying and resolving jurisdictional and regulatory gaps that may impede the deployment of new technology.

Secretary Chao noted that the NETT Council will be “a one-stop shop for innovators and stakeholders to work with DOT to implement new cross-modal technologies.”

FHWA Executive Director Leads Meeting with World Road Association Thomas D. Everett, Executive Director of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), delivered a welcome address and introduction to U.S. representatives to the technical committees and task forces at the January 2019 Transportation Research Board’s Annual Meeting. Executive Director Everett, who serves as the First Delegate to the World Road Association (WRA), spoke about FHWA’s broader commitment to transportation. This commitment, he said, affords the United States the opportunity to exert an active role globally on key road-related issues.

Everett praised the work done by FHWA and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) staff who serve on technical committees and task forces. He told committee members that their involvement in the technical work of the WRA creates important opportunities that ensure U.S. perspectives are captured in WRA’s products.

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