The U.S. has a long tradition of pioneering new methods of travel—from the first automobile to our ongoing leadership in space exploration. Today, we are facing a new challenge. The landscape for ground transportation is shifting rapidly and dramatically. A future of roads teeming with autonomous vehicles once seemed impossible; today, it’s all but inevitable.
The race away from driver-focused world is global and increasingly competitive. Other countries are moving aggressively ahead in establishing national plans and blueprints, investing substantial funding in safety research and deployments and launching public-private partnerships to jumpstart these opportunities and quickly enable scale. To keep pace with the transportation industry worldwide, we must be thinking globally, strategically and long-term.
It’s hard to underestimate the benefits—both economic and societal—that will flow from broad deployment of IoT technology in transportation in the U.S. By reinventing the automotive industry, we can bring billions of dollars into the American economy. We will not only fuel GDP and create new jobs, but we can also boost productivity. According to research from Texas A&M University, American rush-hour commuters spent 6.9 billion hours stuck in traffic in 2014. With self-driving cars, we can engage in productive activity while in transit and, because traffic will be reduced, our commutes will be shorter.
We can also significantly decrease costs resulting from automotive accidents—an estimated $190 billion per year, according to a McKinsey & Co. report. And, of course, with safer travel, we can alleviate the physical and emotional toll that traffic accidents bring to families across the U.S each year. Not only will the roads be safer, but we can reduce traffic congestion, use less fuel, cut down on harmful emissions and provide new mobility options for the disabled and elderly.
On Tuesday, June 28, on behalf of Intel and along with several industry leaders, I testified on Capitol Hill to discuss the best path forward. We believe that by adopting and implementing a National IoT Transportation Strategy for autonomous vehicles and 5G-enabled connected cars, the U.S. can unlock the great potential of these new technologies. There are a few immediate steps that Congress can take to act on this strategy and accelerate transportation modernization here at home:
- Ensure that U.S. Department of Transportation research and development funding enables and propels industry-driven investment and is distributed objectively
- Provide greater support for open platforms to accelerate innovation across the field
- Support open standards and consortia, refraining from mandating specific technologies, standards, or protocols and, instead, let the marketplace determine technology winners and losers
- Direct the U.S Department of Transportation to test the latest in vehicle-to-vehicle safety technologies, ensuring a true cost-benefit analysis showing the value compared to older technologies
- Prioritize safety—both crash prevention and protection against security breaches—in all policymaking
Above all, government and industry collaboration may be one of our nation’s best assets to accelerate the adoption of world-class transportation systems. Viable public-private partnerships will make deployments an appealing investment for both government and industry, while ensuring scalability and sustainability of infrastructure and technological innovation over the long term. Together, we can create transportation test beds to advance technologies such as 5G and machine learning that are critical to autonomous driving.
Notably, South Korea, Germany, UK and Japan have already taken many of these steps– and are quickly moving forward. As these other countries have recognized, a forward-looking IoT transportation strategy that will keep pace with global innovation is essential.
At the same time, the U.S. is uniquely suited to take a leadership role. Our country is home to some of the most innovative technology and transportation companies on the planet. We have both an entrepreneurial spirit and deep industry experience. By adopting and implementing a National IoT Transportation Strategy for autonomous vehicles and 5G-enabled connected cars, the U.S. will be poised to become a leader in this next evolution of transportation.
If we can work together to develop and deploy emerging IoT technology in this space as it evolves, we will secure a global leadership position while vastly improving transportation safety, mobility and efficiency.
Doug Davis is senior vice president and general manager of the Internet of Things (IoT) Group at Intel Corporation.