U.S., Canadian transportation officials discuss self-driving vehicles at Automobili-D

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao kicks off Automobili-D on Sunday afternoon. (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

DETROIT — U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao was the keynote speaker on the first day of AutoMobili-D at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

She stated that automated or self-driving vehicles are about to change the way we travel and connect with one another.  They have faster reaction times, 360-degree vision and they can see at night.  A recent AAA survey found that 78 percent of Americans are afraid to ride in a driverless car.

The Department of Transportation has a role to play in shaping the future of this technology.  She outlined the department’s expectations:

  1. Public and private sectors have an obligation to lead.
  2. Many have concerns about the safety, security and privacy of autonomous vehicle technology.
  3. New technologies will create new jobs.  Different categories of jobs.
  4. Safety will always be our number one priority.

“This administration is committed to safety and being the global technology leader,” Chao explained.  “There is still anxiety of an autonomous vehicle.  However, call it the ‘self-driving’ car and anxiety decreases.  Many say that America has a love affair with the automobile…..and it has been going on for more than a century.  It is a symbol of personal freedom–the ability to go wherever you want, whenever you want.  And if the Detroit Auto Show is any indication, the American love affair with the automobile is still going strong.”

On September 12, 2017, the Department of Transportation developed a program for safe testing of autonomous vehicles.  On January 10, the Department published a series of notices to identify barriers of innovation.  None of us know the future.  Many transportation rules no longer apply to the present.  This is a unique time for the automotive industry.

“People are much better at providing context to driving situations.  The potential is to reduce the risk of driver error.  94 percent of accidents are related to driver error.  Automated vehicles will decrease this risk and hold a promise of not only improving safety but increasing mobility for so many people.  It can provide millions with security, freedom and a better quality of life.”

“Lastly, I have to give a shout-out to FiatChrysler which announced on Friday they will invest $1 billion and move their plant from Mexico to Warren, Mich. just a few miles from here.  They will employ 2,500 workers and workers will receive a $2,000 bonus due to the new tax-cut plan,” added Chao.

Debbie Dingell, Michigan Congresswoman, introduced Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Ray Tanguay, Automotive Advisor to Ontario and Canada

Ray Tanguay, Automotive Advisor of Ontario and Canada, was also on hand to say that Ontario is teaching cars to think.  The U.S. and Canada sales for 2017 reached 19,000,000 vehicles which is amazing.  Production is still here.  We have to celebrate that we are the center of the auto industry.

“The importance of the auto industry is huge.  It has produced 126,000 direct jobs, 9.6 billion in wages, 18.2 billion to the GDP with 86.5 billion in exports.  This is why I stay engaged in the auto industry.  The rebound for Michigan and the City of Detroit is amazing.  More than 46,000 auto manufacturing jobs been added since 2009.  I collaborated with Governor Snyder in Traverse City to share technology and talent to promote innovative technology.  In order to compete, we have to work together.”

Tanguay compared technology from the old televisions with rabbit ears to 70-inch color TVs of today and the telephone to the iPhone.  How the technology has evolved!  “We must meet the customer’s expectations.  Peoples’ expectations are at a different level today.  We must employ technology to meet expectation.”

He also said we must digitize the industry from the product life cycle in suppliers to software and automation; from integrated engineering to integrated operation.  So how do we create a digital world?  We have to have the proper facilities.  Planet M and Mcity are some examples of this.

“However, we need to pick up the speed.  We must be more integrated on how we prepare our youth.  The second largest IT region in North America is Ontario.  Canada is a leader in artificial intelligence.  The 5G technology is the next generation of wireless technology that will shape the coming decade.  We have the talent and expertise in Canada.  Please visit AutoMobili-D at the show.  We CAN teach cars to think.”

Stay with AmericaJR.com for continuing coverage of the 2018 NAIAS all week long…

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Tanguay said that automotive and IT companies in Canada are working on “teaching cars to think.” (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Congresswoman Debbie Dingell introduced Secretary Chao. (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


U.S. Transportation Secretary Chao showing off the “Automated Driving Systems:Vision for Safety 2.0” report by the NHTSA. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Both Chao and Tanguay mentioned the NAVYA autonomous shuttle which will be transporting students around the University of Michigan campus starting in the spring. (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


AmericaJR’s Jason Rzucidlo sits inside the new NAVYA autonomous shuttle. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


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