USDOT Involvement at the 2016 Automated Vehicle Symposium

Transportation is cool again. That was the sentiment at the recent Automated Vehicles Symposium 2016, held this year in San Francisco, CA. Leading researchers, regulators, technologists, and decision makers representing 25 countries converged at this event to discuss the exciting future of transportation and automation’s prominent role in it. The United States is accelerating toward integration of this innovative technology on its roads and highways, so several U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) leaders and staff participated in the symposium to share the Department’s vision for automated vehicles.

The National Academies Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) partner together to host the annual event, now in its fifth year. Held from July 19 through 21, this year’s symposium focused on the challenges and opportunities related to the increasing automation of motor vehicles as well as the environments in which they operate.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx delivered the opening keynote address, during which he stressed that now is the time to begin preparing to integrate automation into the bloodstream of America’s ecosystem. The potential of automated vehicles to reduce crashes and save lives is of primary importance to the Department, and Secretary Foxx recognized the primacy of safety throughout his keynote, calling on the industry to adopt the same priority. Foxx also emphasized the involvement of government, industry, and consumers as critical to the successful integration of automated vehicles, noting that each must have clear lines of responsibility. In addition, his speech touched on the need to establish certification processes, harmonized standards, liability and enforcement policies, and regulations that aren’t barriers to innovation and integration. Foxx concluded his keynote by looking ahead to the next-stage technology and ensuring we have new tools and approaches to enable them—underscoring the fact that transportation is an industry constantly accelerating toward the next.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator Dr. Mark R. Rosekind’s speech opened the second day of the symposium. Dr. Rosekind reiterated Secretary Foxx’s commitment to pursuing automation because of its potential to improve the safety of our nation’s transportation system. He recognized the need for guidance and regulations, highlighting the agency’s work on automated vehicle guidance to be released this year. Moreover, he stressed the Department’s movement toward a new approach to developing guidance and regulations that is nimble and flexible and able to keep pace with rapidly changing technology. Dr. Rosekind concluded with the agency’s goal to lead a harmonized approach to the integration of automated vehicles that will transform the way people get around and dramatically reduce the number of lives lost while doing so.

The Automated Vehicles Symposium also included interactive plenary presentations and breakout program sessions covering all aspects of automated vehicles. Plenary sessions offered presentations from the public sector, automakers and suppliers, technology firms, and academic research institutes on road automation issues such as human factors, ethical considerations, international collaboration and initiatives, shared mobility, public perception and acceptance, cyber security, smart cities, standards, environmental implications, and more.

Breakout session topics included:

  • Public Transport and Shared Mobility
  • Law and Policy as Infrastructure
  • Human Factors in Road Vehicle Automation
  • Impact Assessment
  • Enabling Technologies
  • Safety Assurance
  • Future Challenges for Automated Trucks
  • Traffic Signal Control with Connected and Automated Vehicles
  • Methods for Assessing Market Acceptance, Adoption, and Usage of AVs
  • Ethical and Social Implications of Automated Vehicles
  • Early Implementation Alternatives for Automated Vehicles: An Interactive Scenario Planning Session
  • "AV-Ready" Cities or "City-Ready AVs?"
  • Design and Operational Challenges/Opportunities for Deploying Automated Vehicles on Freeways and Managed Lanes
  • Reducing Conflict Between Vulnerable Road Users and Automated Vehicles
  • Behavioral Experiments for Modeling Adoption and Use of Autonomous Vehicles
  • Aftermarket Systems (ADAS- related)
  • Policy Making for Automated Vehicles: A Proactive Approach for Government
  • Effects of Vehicle Automation on Energy- and Carbon- Intensity
  • Cyber Security and Resilience Challenges and Opportunities for Self-Driving Vehicles
  • Physical Infrastructure, Work Zones, and Digital Infrastructure
  • Traffic Flow of Connected Automated Vehicles
  • Can Our Research Processes Keep Up in an Age of Automated Vehicles and Other Transformational Technologies?

The symposium concluded with a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Listening Session, during which FHWA staff presented draft research roadmaps for discussion with attendees. USDOT program managers also presented their work as part of the poster sessions held during the first two days of the event.

Nearly 1200 attendees participated in the symposium over the course of the week, making it the largest gathering in the world of professionals involved with making automated vehicles a reality.