Chao discusses emerging transportation technologies council at SXSW

Updated Mar 25, 2019
From Virgin Hyperloop One testing in 2017. Photo: Virgin Hyperloop OneFrom Virgin Hyperloop One testing in 2017. Photo: Virgin Hyperloop One

At South by Southwest (SXSW) in March 2019, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao noted that the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council would meet for the first time that week to discuss several topics with industry innovators, including tunneling, hyper loops, and self-driving cars, the Statesman reports.

“We basically have a 20th century organizational structure for 21st century technologies,” Chao said, according to the news agency. “So when new technologies don’t fit neatly into the existing modal structure, the results can slow down and even stifle transportation infrastructure.”

The new council was created to address oversight gaps created by emerging technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, that fall within the jurisdiction of several transportation agencies. The council will help to streamline the discussion.

“We are talking nothing less than transforming the way in which we move, live and work. We want to do so in a responsible way,” Chao said, according to the Statesman. “The role of the government is to address the legitimate public concerns about safety, security and privacy without hampering innovation, and that’s the tough part.”

In October, the Transportation Department updated its future transportation plans to include all automated vehicles, which are expected to help reduce congestion and increase safety, but most people have reservations about them.

“I challenge … people at Silicon Valley to share with us their confidence and their comfort with the new technology, because consumer acceptance will be a constraint to growth,” Chao said.