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Regina Hopper, CEO of The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) and Paul Brubaker, CEO of The Alliance for Transportation Innovation (ATI21.org) held a lively discussion today on federal transportation policy and innovation. The discussion, moderated by Bryan Saint focused on this critical moment in the evolution of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and the task of moving exciting innovations out of the labs and onto the roadways.

With more than 30,000 people killed annually on America’s roads (early statistics indicate that number could approach 40,000 in 2016), Hopper and Brubaker agreed these life-saving technologies have never been more critical. But major challenges to deployment remain including transition from the current fleet, cybersecurity and in the case of self-driving, job retraining for those who will be displaced.

Earlier this Fall, the U.S. Department of Transportation released its Federal Automated Vehicles Policy signaling government support for self-driving vehicles, but the road to full autonomy has many challenges. Brubaker, who formerly served as administrator of U.S. DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) stated that his group released a National Strategic Framework to advance self-driving vehicles just last week arguing that bringing these technologies to bear should be a critical goal of the incoming administration. Going one step further, he said only the office of the president has the ability to bring all government and private sector stakeholders together to accomplish this goal.

In spite of the challenges, Hopper and Brubaker remain optimistic about prospects for a connected transportation future and the role private industry and innovators will play in making it happen.

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