Contact: Summer Johnson
Self-driving vehicles are coming soon, but only if stifling regulations don’t get in the way, officials with the Alliance for Transportation Innovation said during a stop of the organization’s inaugural Autonomous Vehicle Road Trip in metropolitan Arlington.
At a meeting with Arlington regional transportation officials this morning, ATI21 President and CEO Paul Brubaker said federal rules and laws in some states are hindering the deployment of self-driving technologies.
Outside the meeting, one of ATI21’s partners, EasyMile, offered members of the public a ride in its self-driving transit shuttle, a twelve-person bus that navigated its way through a course set up in the parking lot of the Arlington Convention Center. “Self-driving vehicles will change the way we live, work and play. They will improve safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike. And they will reduce costs associated with loss of life and property, traffic congestion and delays,” Brubaker said.
Beyond regulations, he noted public acceptance is another key challenge to getting the technology into widespread use on America’s streets and highways, thus the reason for the tour currently scheduled for an additional stop in Los Angeles next Monday, with more planned throughout the year. The tour launched in Atlanta, GA last week.
“The problem is most people have only heard news reports about these revolutionary technologies. The aim of this tour is to give them the chance to ride in a vehicle with no steering wheel, pedals or driver so they can begin to get comfortable with the concept,” he said. “When it comes to self-driving vehicles, seeing is believing,” Brubaker added.
“Arlington has a history of innovation dating back decades when we first recruited General Motors to bring its assembly plant to our community,” said Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams. “We now have a Transportation Committee made up of our residents to push the envelope on technology and innovation to take our City’s transportation plan into the future. That’s why we were so pleased to host the 2017 Autonomous Vehicle Road Trip in Arlington. Technology like this will be the future and signifies great opportunity for transportation.”
“The 2017 Autonomous Vehicle Road Trip brings together innovations in automated vehicle technology, application type, and energy source in a single innovative package,” said Michael Morris, P.E., Director of Transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. “The region needs to take steps like this to position itself as a leader on automated vehicle technology to bring safety, capacity, air quality, energy and mobility option improvements to our residents,” Morris added.
Brubaker also discussed his intention to offer recommendations to the new Trump Administration and
Congress, and asked Arlington-area experts to comment on the guidance meant to prod federal policymakers toward a self-driving plan for the nation.
The “National Strategic Framework to Advance Life-Saving Self-Driving Vehicles” soon will be sent to transportation and elected officials with the goal of making sure federal rules help foster self-driving technology, not slow it down, Brubaker said. “It won’t be long before self-driving vehicles will look and perform the same as those vehicles we operate today – but without drivers and the havoc they wreak on society,” Brubaker concluded. “We need a plan in place to facilitate this revolution as soon as possible.” -END
The Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Transportation Innovation advocates on behalf of the transportation technology industry to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies that will reduce traffic deaths, improve the flow of urban commutes, safely deliver goods to market, eliminate human error and improve mobility for the underserved, disabled and elderly.