In his final months on the job, US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has been vocal about the pressing need to repair America’s broken infrastructure, and all the ways in which technology will fundamentally change the way we move.
With 55,000 employees and a budget of over $70 billion, the Department of Transportation is a massive enterprise responsible for regulating American air, maritime, and surface transportation spaces.
But the organization’s directives can have far-reaching implications: the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 established the modern freeway system, which divided communities but also redefined how Americans traveled long distances.
In September, the DoT released a landmark autonomous vehicles policy that will speed up the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles: self-driving cars, the report asserted, will save lives and make transportation both more efficient and accessible.
The policy sets forth rules for manufacturing and sales of autonomous vehicles, requires companies to share research data with federal regulators, and promotes protection for passenger privacy.
Foxx’s vision for US transportation also includes high-speed rail, GPS tracking systems for airplanes, and drones that will replace trucks to deliver goods to your doorstep.
When we (The Verge) sat down with Foxx in late September he was candid about his thoughts, and eager to talk about why changing how we get around is inevitable, and crucial to moving the nation forward.
THE INTERVIEW (watch video above)
It’s November, 2021: what does the world look like?
By 2021, we will see autonomous vehicles in operation across the country in ways that we [only] imagine today… Families will be able to walk out of their homes and call a vehicle, and that vehicle will take them to work or to school. We're going to see transit systems sharing services with some of these companies. It's not just autonomy in the vehicles. You're going to see trucks running more closely together, which result in fuel savings and positive climate impact. You’ll see companies that will start to use unmanned aircraft to deliver products to us. My daughter, who will be 16 in 2021, won’t have her driver’s license. She will be using a service.
Autonomous vehicles are the biggest disruptors we’ve seen in transportation since the horse went the way of the automobile. What are some of the big challenges you envision in our near future?
One of the biggest challenges has been the absence in clarity of how autonomous vehicles are going to be integrated into the bloodstream of America's transportation system. What safety regulations are going to apply?
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