The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) announced today that it’s forming a new Automation Committee to oversee self-driving transportation policy. The committee will be co-chaired by GM CEO Mary Barra and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Several top executives from most companies developing autonomous driving technology are on the new committee, although Tesla is notably not currently listed as a member.
According to the department’s press release, the newly formed committee will have its first meeting later this month on January 16 and the focus of the group will be to address “the development and deployment of automated vehicles, and determining the needs of the Department as it continues with its relevant research, policy, and regulations.”
As technology develops, automation may play a larger role in a number of modes of transportation, including cars, buses, trains, planes, and UAS (drone) systems. This committee will play a critical role in sharing best practices, challenges, and opportunities in automation, and will open lines of communication so stakeholders can learn and adapt based on feedback from each other.
Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson, is on the committe as the company is slowly starting to show its colors when it comes to its efforts in autonomous driving..
Jackson isn’t a surprising pick for the committee, having served as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) until 2013 when she joined Apple. The committee includes a number of experts in various fields, including Stanford University Professor of Engineering Dr. J. Chris Gerdes as Vice Chair. Others include executives from FedEx, Zipcar, Hyperloop One, Uber, National Safety Council, Lyft, Amazon and others (full list below).
While Jackson serves as Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, and often appears as a face of the company related to environmental efforts, Apple’s role on the committee is notable due to its secretive Apple Car initiative known as Project Titan. As of September, after reports that Apple was looking to reboot the project to focus on an autonomous self-driving platform, one report claimed the company already has fully autonomous vehicles being tested on closed routes. That news came amid reports that Apple was attempting to refocus the team and even laying off some employees in the process.
Earlier this week we reported that Swift creator and Apple’s longtime leader of Xcode/dev tools team left the company to join Tesla, while another high-profile Apple employee who worked on many iconic Macs also left for Tesla this month. There have been many reports over the last year of a poaching war between the two companies, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in June last year that he thinks Apple may have left it too late on its car project.
Even though Tesla is perceived by a lot of people in the industry as a leader in autonomous driving, the company is one of only a few not included in the committee.
Full list of committee members below:
- Co-Chair: Mary Barra- General Motors, Chairman and CEO
- Co-Chair: Eric Garcetti- Mayor of Los Angeles, CA
- Vice Chair: Dr. J. Chris Gerdes- Stanford University, Professor of Engineering
- Gloria Boyland- FedEx, Corporate Vice President, Operations & Service Support
- Robin Chase- Zipcar; Buzzcar; Veniam, Co-founder of Zipcar and Veniam
- Douglas Chey- Hyperloop One, Senior Vice President of Systems Development
- Henry Claypool- Community Living Policy Center, Policy Director
- Mick Cornett- Mayor of Oklahoma City, OK
- Mary “Missy” Cummings- Duke University, Director, Humans and Autonomy Lab, Pratt School of Engineering
- Dean Garfield- Information Technology Industry Council, President and CEO
- Mary Gustanski- Delphi Automotive, Vice President of Engineering & Program Management
- Debbie Hersman- National Safety Council, President and CEO
- Rachel Holt- Uber, Regional General Manager, United States and Canada
- Lisa Jackson- Apple, Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives
- Tim Kentley-Klay- Zoox, Co-founder and CEO
- John Krafcik- Waymo, CEO
- Gerry Murphy- Amazon, Senior Corporate Counsel, Aviation
- Robert Reich- University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy
- Keller Rinaudo- Zipline International, CEO
- Chris Spear- American Trucking Association (ATA), President and CEO
- Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger- Safety Reliability Methods, Inc., Founder and CEO
- Bryant Walker Smith- University of South Carolina, Assistant Professor, School of Law and (by courtesy) School of Engineering
- Jack Weekes- State Farm Insurance, Operations Vice President, Innovation Team
- Ed Wytkind- President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
- John Zimmer- Lyft, Co-founder and President