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AV 3.0 Summit Event

Friday, March 2, 2018

Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
AV 3.0 Summit Event
Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C.
Thursday, March 1, 2018

Thank you, Michael [Kratsios - Deputy Assistant to the President and the Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer, The White House].

I am pleased to join you today to continue the national conversation about autonomous vehicles.  It’s an exciting time for the future of our nation’s transportation.  Autonomous technology—including automated cars, trucks and drones—have the potential to revolutionize the way we travel, transport goods and connect with one another.  Among its benefits, this technology could increase access to transportation — especially for our elderly and people with disabilities.  And it has the potential to help decrease highway fatalities and injuries by addressing the root cause, which is human error.  As you may know, human error is a factor in 94% of all highway accidents.  In fact, autonomous technology can help improve safety across all modes of transportation, not just automobiles.  But there are challenges, as well.

The public has concerns about the security and privacy of automated technology as well as the potential for hacking.  Can they operate safely alongside human-operated systems?  In January, AAA reported that 63 percent of U.S. drivers report are afraid to ride in a fully autonomous vehicle.  That’s down from 78 percent reporting such fears in early 2017, but is still a majority.  Policy makers are also concerned about the potential impact of autonomous technology on the workforce.  New technologies create jobs, but the transition period can be very difficult for dislocated workers.  So, this needs to be addressed to help workers adapt to this new world.

Addressing these challenges requires good information.  So, the Department is holding this summit and taking other steps to gather information as it moves forward on the regulatory front. 

On January 10, 2018, the Department published the first four in a series of formal requests for public feedback to help identify barriers to innovation. They include:

  • One from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, asking for insights regarding regulatory barriers for AV;
  • Two from the Federal Transit Administration that address AV bus technology, research and barriers; and, 
  • One from the Federal Highway Administration that addresses infrastructure technologies for the safe integration of AVs.

These can be found on or the Federal Register.

Several more will be published in the near future by the modes, including:

  • The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration is requesting public comments on existing Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) that may need to be updated, modified, or eliminated to facilitate the safe introduction of automated technology on commercial motor vehicles;
  • The Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is requesting information on matters related to the development and potential use of automated technologies for surface modes; and
  • The Federal Railway Administration is requesting information and comment on the future of automation in the railroad industry.

When the first guidance – ADS 2.0: A Vision for Safety – was released on September 12, 2017, work was already underway on AV 3.0.  I have to tell you something about ADS 2.0.  It has been one of the most-viewed DOT policy documents.  Since it was released, only six months ago, it has been downloaded more than 125,000 times!

AV 3.0 could be released as early as summer 2018, and will be revised as often as needed.   Stakeholder input has already led to an expanded scope for AV 3.0.  It will be multimodal, and include various surface transportation systems, such as mass transit, rail, and trucking. So, many thanks to all of those who responded.

Let me share with you the six basic principles the Department has developed to guide its work on autonomous vehicle policy:  

First, safety remains the Department’s top priority.

Second, the Department’s approach will be flexible and tech neutral, not top down, command and control. We are not in the business of picking winners or losers.  The market will determine the most effective solutions.

Third, when regulations are needed, they will be as non-prescriptive and performance-based as possible. At the same time, in all our regulatory actions and policy decisions going forward, the Department will not automatically assume that the driver of a vehicle is a human – it may be a computer.

Fourth, the Department will work with the states and other authorities to avoid a patchwork approach that could inhibit innovation and make it more difficult for automated vehicles to cross state lines.

Fifth, the Department will provide stakeholders with guidance, best practices, pilot programs, and other assistance to facilitate the safe integration of automated vehicles into our transportation system. The Department will also prepare for complementary technologies that enhance the benefits of automation, such as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.

And sixth, the Department recognizes that there will always be the need for autonomous vehicles to operate side-by-side with traditional vehicles, in both rural and urban areas. We will not assume universal implementation of these technologies.

Many states and localities are already experimenting and testing autonomous vehicles.  The Department is monitoring this on-road testing of AVs, and hopes to use this information as it addresses key regulatory issues. 

The goal is to develop common sense regulations that do not hamper innovation, while preserving safety.  In the coming weeks, the Department will post a report-out on the work sessions completed here today. So, let me encourage you to comment and provide feedback on as many of the six sessions as you can—your input is valued.  The sessions address key multi-modal issues, including concerns regarding Public Safety and First Responders, Disability and Accessibility, Public and Consumer Education, Insurance and Liability, Employment and Labor Issues, and Cyber Security.   

Let me close by noting that creativity and innovation are part of the great genius of America—one of its hallmarks.  We must nurture and preserve this legacy.

Working together, we can help usher in a new era of transportation innovation and safety, and ensure that our country remains a global leader in autonomous technology.

So, thank you for joining us today, and the Department looks forward to working with you on these important issues.