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Reimagining Transportation

A Thought Leadership Series at Volpe

Technology is allowing us to reimagine our future transportation system. Advances in connected automation, navigation, communication, robotics, and smart cities—coupled with a surge in transportation-related data—will dramatically change how we travel and deliver goods and services.

What will transportation look like 10, 20, or 30 years from now? Volpe’s 2015 speaker series—Reimagining Transportation—delved into the trends that will transform transportation.

Event News and Video

Realizing Self-Driving Vehicles

December 1, 2015

Chris Urmson, PhD
Director, Self-Driving Car Program, Google

Google’s vehicles have driven over one million miles on highways and suburban and urban streets. Through this journey, Dr. Chris Urmson and his team have learned a lot—not just about how to drive, but about interacting with drivers, users, and others on the road, and about what it takes to bring incredibly complex system to fruition. During this talk, Urmson shared some fun stories and lessons, along with Google’s vision for how these vehicles will become a reality.

Read the news story, "Realizing Self-Driving Vehicles."

Re-Programming Mobility 2030: Scenarios of Digital Transformation in Metropolitan America

November 24, 2015

Anthony Townsend, PhD
Senior research scientist at New York University, fellow at the Data and Society Research Institute, and author of Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia

Silicon Valley has set its sights on the transportation system as its next big opportunity for profitable disruption, and its first moves have triggered conflicts with regulators at every level of government. As digital transformation occurs at every scale of the transportation system—from individual trip planning to the design and management of regional mass transit systems—how will mobility and land use patterns shift in U.S. metropolitan areas over the coming decades? In this talk, Anthony Townsend, PhD, explored these possibilities, and the ways in which transportation policy and planning organizations may act and react to these shifts.

Read the news story, "Re-Programming Mobility 2030: Scenarios of Digital Transformation in Metropolitan America."

Innovation…It’s More Than a Buzz Word

November 17, 2015

Kaigham (Ken) J. Gabriel, PhD
President and CEO, Draper

Innovation has been called the rising buzzword of 2016 by Politico Magazine. But what is the act of being “innovative”? The infusion of new technologies into our transportation systems is on the rise and increasing in pace. Such infusion introduces opportunities and risk. As just one example, GPS is already enabling fast, safe, and efficient transportation—but how do we avoid becoming so reliant on GPS that transportation is interrupted and safety is threatened? We innovate. In this event, Ken Gabriel discussed what it takes to be innovative.

Read the news story, "Innovation: It’s More Than a Buzzword."

Industry Disruption - How Connectivity is Redefining Personal Mobility

November 12, 2015

Harry Lightsey
Executive director of the Global Connected Customer Experience at General Motors

There is no question that the modern automobile is not your father's automobile. The auto industry is being disrupted, and General Motors (GM) is at the center of that disruption. GM believes connectivity is fundamental to redefining the future of personal mobility. From car-sharing programs, to autonomous vehicles, to other groundbreaking technological advances, the next 30 years are going to bring a transformational change in the auto industry. During this event, Harry Lightsey discussed the industry perspective on where we've been, and where we're going.

Read the news story, "Industry Disruption: How Connectivity Is Redefining Personal Mobility."

Towards 2050: Options for Reducing Light-Duty Vehicle Energy Use and GHG Emissions

November 5, 2015

John B. Heywood, PhD
Professor of mechanical engineering and Sun Jae Professor, Emeritus, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

What reductions can we realistically, over time, expect? As yet, there are only a few inherently promising options. How can we cut through the hype and use the resources we have to best effect? During this event, Dr. John B. Heywood addressed these questions.

Read the news story, "Reducing Light-Duty Vehicle Energy Use and GHG Emissions."

NASA's Strategy for Transformative Aeronautics

October 20, 2015

John A. Cavolowsky, PhD
Director of the Airspace Operations and Safety Program at the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

How will today’s technologies prepare our airspace for global demand and the integration of unmanned aircraft, with the least possible adverse environmental effects? NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) conducts high-impact research that will transform the aviation system of the future. During this talk, John Cavolowsky, PhD, discussed NASA’s near- and long-term aeronautical research themes, technical challenges, and expected outcomes looking to 2025, 2035, and beyond.

Read the news story, "NASA’s Vision for Transformative Aeronautics."

User and Machine: Secrets to a Harmonious Marriage

October 7, 2015

Donald L. Fisher, PhD
Principal technical advisor and engineering research psychologist, Volpe, U.S. DOT, and professor and former head, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Automation in the field of transportation is everywhere. Have we as humans become an afterthought? We order service on our smartphones, we maneuver around in increasingly automated vehicles, we ride in driverless transport, and we will increasingly find ourselves sharing our highways and byways with drones and other unmanned craft. What do the lessons of a good marriage between two people bring to our understanding of how best to marry user and machine? During this event, Donald Fisher explored these questions.

Read the news story, "User and Machine: Secrets to a Harmonious Marriage."

Leveraging Opportunities: Modernizing Our National Airspace System in an Evolving Environment

September 30, 2015

Edward L. Bolton Jr.
Assistant Administrator for NextGen, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. DOT

We have the safest, largest, and most efficient airspace in the world. Modernizing it with the Next Generation Air Transportation System is preparing us to handle higher traffic, cutting down on environmental impacts and taking advantage of improved technologies and procedures. During this event, Edward L. Bolton Jr. talked about related challenges and opportunities, including cybersecurity, commercial space, and unmanned aircraft.

Read the news story, "A Forward View of NextGen, America’s Biggest Infrastructure Project."

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Transportation

September 18, 2015

Andrew McAfee, PhD
Principal research scientist and co-founder of the Initiative on the Digital Economy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of The Second Machine Age

Autonomous cars, hacked vehicles, drone deliveries; we're seeing things on the ground today that we weren't even seeing in science fiction films a decade ago. Where are these developments taking us, and how quickly? Which aspects should be encouraged, and which controlled? In this session, Dr. Andrew McAfee discussed the rapidly shifting technology landscape, and its implications. Kicking off the speaker series, this event featured a special video introduction by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and welcome by U.S. DOT Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Gregory Winfree.

Read the news story, "Humans and Technology in Transportation: Balancing Augmentation and Automation."

Updated: Monday, January 28, 2019