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FHWA Research Showcase

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
FHWA Research Showcase
Washington, DC
September 18, 2019

Thank you, Nicole.

And let me welcome…

  • U.S. Senator Rob Portman;
  • U.S. Senator Gary Peters; and,
  • U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell.

Let me also acknowledge leaders from the U.S. Department of Transportation who are supporting this multimodal effort:

  • Joel Szabat, Acting Under Secretary for Policy;
  • Ray Martinez, Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration;
  • Jane Williams, Acting Administrator, Federal Transit Administration;
  • James Owens, Deputy Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration;
  • Dan Elwell, Deputy Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration;
  • Dick Balzano, Deputy Administrator, Maritime Administration; and,
  • Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology.

It's great to be here as we showcase transportation and mobility solutions that can transform lives, and make transportation safer.

Innovation in transportation has long been a centerpiece of progress. From the time of our nation’s founding, transportation innovation has increased mobility, economic growth and improved quality of life.

The research being conducted at the Federal Highway Administration’s Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center – in partnerships with universities, startups and industry stakeholders – has helped to advance transportation innovation. This work includes development of innovations in materials, designs, operations and safety. This has enabled the highway system to move people and freight more safely, and has contributed to the economic success of our country. This kind of transportation innovation has always been in America's DNA.

Today you’ll have the opportunity to witness this innovation first-hand. The demonstrations include: 

  • Our CARMA Platform – which enables the testing and evaluation of cooperative automation concepts;
  • Ultra High-Performance Concrete – which is stronger and more durable than conventional concrete. The Federal Highway Administration has already used this concrete to improve bridge construction.
  • Hand-Held instruments that can quickly determine the composition of highway materials;
  • And, a Hydraulics Lab Robot that helps test for soil erosion.

Improving safety is a focus of all of these.

We hope you’ll visit these and the many other exhibits and demonstrations at today’s research showcase. This unique event features cutting edge innovations in mobility, safety and infrastructure from leading technology and transportation stakeholders.

We are also excited today to announce proposed project awards totaling $60 million for the Automated Driving Systems Demonstration Grants. The Department received a wide variety of applications and, after thorough consideration, have selected eight projects from seven states.

The selected proposals address a range of important transportation issues, including rural investment and access and mobility for transportation-challenged populations.

  • The City of Detroit, Michigan will be awarded $7.5 million to implement Cooperative Automation Research Mobility Applications - or CARMA - software for safety testing.
  • The Ohio Department of Transportation will receive a $7.5 million award to conduct demonstrations focusing on rural environments, cooperative automation and data collection to enable effective ADS policies.
  • The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station will be awarded more than $7 million to develop and test ADS for rural roads without high-definition maps, and with no or low-quality road signs. This is important, because rural transportation is often overlooked by ADS deployment efforts.
  • The University of Iowa will be awarded over $7 million to connect rural, transportation-challenged populations — like the rapidly growing aging sector — using a mobility-friendly ADS.
  • The Virginia Tech University Transportation Institute will receive an award of $7.5 million to demonstrate the safe interaction of ADS-equipped vehicles in Northern Virginia.
  • And, Virginia Tech University will receive a second award of $7.5 million to develop a Fleet Concept, to provide the trucking industry with clear guidelines on how to safely implement ADS-equipped trucks.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will receive an award of $8.4 million to address the safe integration of automated vehicles into work zones, in urban and rural settings.
  • Finally, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority in California will receive a $7.5 million award to demonstrate shared, on-demand, and wheelchair accessible ADS-equipped vehicles. This project supports accessibility by focusing on ADS services for medical patients, to include disabled, impaired, aging, low-income, and mobility-challenged riders.

These projects will greatly benefit their communities, and show our country the diverse applications of ADS technology.

Let me end by congratulating all those receiving awards today. The U.S. Department of Transportation is proud to be your partner in building a stronger future for transportation innovation, safety, and for America.

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