AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES: Federal Committee on Automation looks to be in permanent stasis

The council, founded during the Obama administration, has seen members jump ship in the age of Trump

August 25, 2017
The council, founded during the Obama administration, has seen members jump ship in the age of Trump
autonomous vehicle

Among the myriad programs and promises that have either been curtailed, rolled back or outright rescinded since the Trump administration assumed power in Washington, the Federal Committee on Automation, the government’s council advisory board devoted to driverless-vehicle technology, is yet another victim.

According to multiple sources, committee members, among them executives from Apple, Ford, GM, and Lyft, has fallen entirely dormant. The committee first met in January of this year, shortly before the Obama administration left office. In the interim, the committee, led by GM CEO Mary Barra and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, has not met once.

Despite Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s vow to put more self-driving cars on the road as quickly as possible, it seems that all bets are off—at least with regard to the federal government’s prioritizing of this technology segment.

A spokeperson for Lyft indicated their executives left the council some time ago, and a source from Google’s Waymo division said the council is not active at all under the Trump administration.

Following President Trump’s dissolution of both the Manufacturing Council and the Strategy & Policy Forum, the dormancy of the Automation committee seems to be indicative of a larger-scale issue of programming prioritization, despite a statement this past July from a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, who said the agency was “still reviewing its options for how best to utilize the Committee going forward and on what specific scope the Committee should focus.”

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