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Tech Transfer Activities at DOT

DOT consists of multiple modal Operating Administrations (OAs), which carry out mission-related Research, Development and Technology (RD&T) programs. DOT’s current approach to technology transfer is diverse and unique to each mode of transportation.  Each modal OA conducts mission specific deployment activities tailored to its mode and type of research. 

DOT's Tech Transfer Annual Performance Report

Each year, the OST's Tech Transfer Program Manager works with R&D leaders and T2 colleagues across DOT to compile data and success stories into a Technology Transfer Annual Performance Report. This report includes a summary of intellectual property, such as inventions, patents, and licenses, arising out of DOT research, as well as cooperative research and developments agreements (CRADAs).

Coordination by the Office of the Secretary

To support its critical tech transfer mission, there is a DOT Technology Transfer Program Manager within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology.

OST coordinates the development of U.S. Department of Transportation Technology Transfer Strategic Plan across DOT’s modal agencies, broadly engages transportation stakeholders as DOT’s lead Tech Transfer champion, and secures resources to assist modal partners as they engage in tech transfer activities. OST represents the Department in the following supporting groups:

  • the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on strategic tech transfer initiatives like the Lab to Market Cross-Agency Priority Goal.
  • the Interagency Working Group for Technology Transfer (IAWGTT), established in Executive Order 12591 and overseen by the Department of Commerce.
  • The Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC), comprising more than 300 federal laboratories, facilities and research centers and their parent agencies, with members including world–renowned scientists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs, academia, laboratory personnel, and T2 professionals.

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Active DOT Agency Partners  

These DOT agencies and laboratories directly engage in formal technology transfer activities:

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): The FAA’s Federal laboratory is the William J. Hughes Technical Center located at the Atlantic City International Airport. (Atlantic City, NJ).
    • The Hughes Technical Center is the nation's premier air transportation system laboratory. Their highly technical and diverse workforce conducts tests and evaluations, verification and validation, and sustainment of the FAA's full spectrum of aviation systems, and develops scientific solutions to current and future air transportation safety challenges by conducting applied research and development.
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA): Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (McLean, VA).
    • This center is home to more than 20 laboratories, data centers, and support facilities, and conducts applied and exploratory advanced research in vehicle-to-highway interaction, nanotechnology. They also conduct safety research in the areas of: pavements, highway structures, bridges, human-centered systems and intelligent transportation systems (ITS).
  • Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R): John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Cambridge, MA).
    • Volpe is a fee-for-service government entity and is committed to improving transportation by anticipating and addressing emerging issues. They are the premiere thought leaders in technological innovation and deliver, research, advanced technologies and state-of-the art programs to ensure a fast, safe, efficient, accessible, and convenient transportation system that meets vital national and international interests.

      Through both public and private partnerships they are able to provide needs assessments, evaluate research and development activities and facilitates technology transfer, all of which profoundly impact decision- and policy-making.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): Vehicle Research and Test Center (VRTC).
    • The NHTSA Vehicle Research and Test Center (VRTC) is a federal research facility where they conduct research and vehicle testing in support of NHTSA's mission to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce traffic-related healthcare and other economic costs. Research performed covers the areas of Crash Avoidance, Crash Worthiness, and Biomechanics. These research and development activities produce safer vehicles through improved vehicle performance, improved occupant protection systems, improved structural integrity of vehicles, increased understanding of driver behavior, and the use of intelligent systems to enhance drivers' ability to avoid crashes and travel safely. VRTC also conducts investigations into potential safety-related defects in motor vehicles in support of the Office of Defects Investigation.

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Stewardship of Intellectual Property

The tech transfer program works in close cooperation with DOT’s Intellectual Property (IP) office, a part of the Office of the DOT General Counsel. The IP office coordinates and develops internal policies relating to the evaluation, protection and licensing of new technologies and discoveries made by the individual DOT agencies and their labs and research centers.  It also monitors and manages such licenses and other the other IP assets of the Department.

Other Activities to Streamline Tech Transfer Operations

DOT works continually to increase and streamline the coordination of tech transfer activities between the R&D programs of its operating administrations, to efficiently collect intellectual property and other T2 information, and add value to the DOT research investment. In addition to hosting this public website, the tech transfer program:

  • develops training materials for R&D personnel on tech transfer best practices, like the primer “Building a Foundation for Effective Technology Transfer through Integration with the Research Process;”
  • shares model agreements for use or adoption by the OAs and/or the Department’s federal laboratories; and
  • works with third-party intermediaries to promote the Department’s research facilities and equipment, its research capabilities, and the technologies available for licensing.