U.S. Department of Transportation announces a new committee focused on automation

The U.S. regulatory agency overseeing transportation at the federal level has announced a new official committee on automation, be it autonomous driving, drones or other self-guided modes of getting around. The committee is designed to help the Department of Transportation (DOT) learn from industry experts regarding how it should be shaping policy and research in these emerging fields.

Members of the committee include industry experts like Co-Chairs Mary Barra (GM CEO); politicians including Eric Garcetti (LA Mayor); along with researchers like Vice Chair Dr. J Chris Gerdes of Stanford University’s engineering department. Other noteworthy members include Waymo CEO John Krafcik, Delphi Automotive engineering VP Mary Gustanski, Uber North America GM Rachel Holt, Lyft co-founder John Zimmer, as well as Apple VP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson – plus, American hero and one-time Tom Hanks role Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. A full list of committee members follows below.

The committee’s first meeting takes place January 16, so prior to Trump’s inauguration, and outgoing U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx noted in a release announcing the news that the committee is designed to help continue the organization’s work under his leadership to encourage continuing technological advances in transportation safety while also helping to “boost” economic, reliability and efficiency factors.

The formation of the committee does seem to also line up with the priorities of inbound Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, whose confirmation hearing took pace Tuesday morning, and who seemed to encounter no major roadblocks during the proceedings. Chao repeatedly articulated the need for an open dialog between government and private interests, in order to help the DOT avoid being a hurdle to innovation while still doing its utmost to ensure safe deployment of advanced technologies.

Here’s the full list of automation committee members from the DOT:

  1. Co-Chair: Mary Barra- General Motors, Chairman and CEO
  2. Co-Chair: Eric Garcetti- Mayor of Los Angeles, CA
  3. Vice Chair: Dr. J. Chris Gerdes- Stanford University, Professor of Engineering
  4. Gloria Boyland- FedEx, Corporate Vice President, Operations & Service Support
  5. Robin Chase- Zipcar; Buzzcar; Veniam, Co-founder of Zipcar and Veniam
  6. Douglas Chey- Hyperloop One, Senior Vice President of Systems Development
  7. Henry Claypool- Community Living Policy Center, Policy Director
  8. Mick Cornett- Mayor of Oklahoma City, OK
  9. Mary “Missy” Cummings- Duke University, Director, Humans and Autonomy Lab, Pratt School of Engineering
  10. Dean Garfield- Information Technology Industry Council, President and CEO
  11. Mary Gustanski- Delphi Automotive, Vice President of Engineering & Program Management
  12. Debbie Hersman- National Safety Council, President and CEO
  13. Rachel Holt- Uber, Regional General Manager, United States and Canada
  14. Lisa Jackson- Apple, Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives
  15. Tim Kentley-Klay- Zoox, Co-founder and CEO
  16. John Krafcik- Waymo, CEO
  17. Gerry Murphy- Amazon, Senior Corporate Counsel, Aviation
  18. Robert Reich- University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy
  19. Keller Rinaudo- Zipline International, CEO
  20. Chris Spear- American Trucking Association (ATA), President and CEO
  21. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger- Safety Reliability Methods, Inc., Founder and CEO
  22. Bryant Walker Smith- University of South Carolina, Assistant Professor, School of Law and (by courtesy) School of Engineering
  23. Jack Weekes- State Farm Insurance, Operations Vice President, Innovation Team
  24. Ed Wytkind- President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
  25. John Zimmer- Lyft, Co-founder and President