US Transportation Secretary Chao announces new transportation technology council at SXSW

The federal government is creating a council to address oversight gaps created by emerging technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, that fall within the jurisdiction of multiple Department of Transportation agencies.

Speaking Tuesday before the start of the department’s five interactive sessions at South by Southwest, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council will meet for the first time later this week and involve industry innovators. Possible topics for the council include tunneling, hyperloops and self-driving cars.

Eleven distinct administrations oversee different areas of the Transportation Department, including highways, air travel, and pipelines and hazardous materials. Emerging technologies often fall under the jurisdictions of several agencies.

“We basically have a 20th century organizational structure for 21st century technologies. So when new technologies don’t fit neatly into the existing modal structure, the results can slow down and even stifle transportation infrastructure,” Chao said.