U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a field hearing titled, “Driving Automotive Innovation and Federal Policies,” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 24, 2018, at the Washington Convention Center. The Senate field hearing will examine self-driving and other auto technologies as well as issues on the horizon for lawmakers and regulators. Days after the hearing, the convention center will open its doors for an industry-wide auto showcase event.
- Dr. Randy Avent, President, Florida Polytechnic University
- Mr. Tim Kentley-Klay, CEO and Co-Founder, Zoox, Inc.
- Mr. Mike Mansuetti, President, Robert Bosch North America, Robert Bosch LLC
- Mr. Luke Schneider, President, Audi Mobility U.S.
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
801 Mt Vernon Pl NW
West Salon Room
Washington, DC 20001
The hearing is open to credentialed media and the public. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Mr. Tim Kentley-KlayCo-Founder and CEOZoox
John R Thune
Good morning. One of the privileges of leading a committee with jurisdiction as broad as that of the Commerce Committee is that sometimes our work takes us off Capitol Hill and into the real world. In recent years, we’ve held field hearings in Alaska, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Florida, and yes, South Dakota. While we haven’t traveled quite as far today, what we are here to discuss is no less important for all Americans, and it’s great to be in a venue that will soon welcome scores of people excited about the future of the automobile.
The automobile industry is an essential part of America’s economy, generating nearly one trillion dollars of economic activity each year and supporting seven million jobs across all fifty states.
And this industry is not standing still. It’s hard to believe, but the auto industry spends more on research and development of new technologies than the software and aerospace industries. Today’s high-tech automobile has some thirty thousand parts drawn from a global supply chain.
New technologies such as automated vehicles and new business models offering mobility as a service are poised to enable substantial growth. Key benefits include improved safety, new jobs, new transportation opportunities, and reduced congestion.
Automated vehicles (AVs) offer perhaps the largest potential gains in all of these areas. More than 37,000 people lost their lives on U.S. roads in 2016, a troubling and unacceptable increase from the year before.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, as many as 94 percent of those crashes were the result of human error. AVs, which cannot fall asleep, get distracted, or become impaired, could potentially save many thousands of lives every year.
AVs may also spur significant new economic activity. By one estimate, the wide adoption of AVs will spur a new “passenger economy” worth seven trillion dollars over the next few decades. And AVs will provide access to mobility to many Americans, such as the elderly and those with disabilities, some of whom may be unable to drive today.
If our country is to realize these benefits, policymakers must take a careful approach to these new technologies. We must allow innovation to thrive while also ensuring the technology is safe and reliable. We must also refrain from favoring one technology, business model, or type of company over another so as to avoid locking in technology before innovation and market choices can take place.
The bipartisan AV START Act, which Senator Peters and I introduced, accomplishes these goals by building on the existing regulatory framework to prioritize safety through increased reporting and oversight, thus promoting public safety and building public confidence and trust.
At the same time, AV START removes unintentional barriers to innovation in existing law and promotes a level playing field so that neither traditional automakers, tech giants, nor new startups are unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged.
If U.S. regulators are not able to foster safe testing and deployment of AV technology through modernizations like those in AV START, the rest of the world will not sit by. America currently leads the way in auto innovation, but many other countries, particularly China, are catching up. We all want America to remain competitive and see the benefits of new jobs and new economic growth.
The AV START Act is just that – a start. As AVs become more widespread, there will be tough policy and societal questions that we must all work together to answer.
AV START contains formal processes to start answering some of these questions, such as those relating to data and how law enforcement will interact with AVs. This Committee will remain active and will build upon the strong foundation established by the AV START Act.
I want to thank Senator Peters, Ranking Member Nelson, and all the members of the Committee for their great work on this landmark piece of legislation and look forward to seeing it pass the full Senate soon.
While AV technology is approaching quickly, the auto industry is innovating in other areas with immediate benefits. Advanced driver assistance systems, such as lane keeping assist and automatic emergency braking, are available in an increasing number of vehicles on the road today and are already saving lives. And new developments in fuel technology, such as hybrid and all-electric vehicles, and increased use of biofuels such as ethanol, boost fuel efficiency and reduce pollution.
To explore these issues, we have a great panel of witnesses today representing organizations that are leading the way in many areas of automotive innovation:
• Mr. Luke Schneider, President of Audi Mobility US;
• Mr. Mike Mansuetti, President of Robert Bosch North America;
• Mr. Tim Kentley-Kay, CEO and Co-Founder of Zoox, Inc.; and
• Dr. Randy Avent, President of Florida Polytechnic University.
Thank you all for being here and I look forward to your testimony.
I will now turn to Senator Nelson for his opening remarks.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing.
I am very hopeful about the prospect of self-driving cars, and I appreciate the efforts of the chairman to arrange this event at the Washington Auto Show.
I am particularly excited about Florida’s role in the development of autonomous technology and I am pleased to have the president of Florida Polytechnic University, Dr. Randy Avent, testify today.
The university is working in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation to develop and operate a 42 million dollar, 475-acre autonomous vehicle testing facility in Polk County known as Suntrax. I would like to extend my congratulations to Florida Polytechnic for this achievement. I am confident this world-class facility will play a vital role in the ongoing research to improve autonomous technology and ultimately provide for the safe and efficient deployment of self-driving cars.
Autonomous technology is advancing rapidly. Just two weeks ago, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, General Motors announced a plan to put fully autonomous vehicles – without driver controls – on public roads as early as 2019.
General Motors is not alone. Countless other automakers, technology companies, and suppliers are rolling out innovations that have the potential to completely transform our sense of mobility and, most importantly, save lives.
In addition, autonomous vehicles may bring significant environmental benefits through reduced emissions, increased efficiency and productivity, and improved transportation opportunities for underserved communities, seniors, and people with disabilities.
While the potential benefits of self-driving vehicles are numerous, it is crucial that Congress and the federal government exercise responsible oversight to ensure the safe development and deployment of these emerging technologies.
The AV START Act, which was passed unanimously by this committee last October, is an important step in the right direction.
The bill enhances safety by requiring autonomous vehicle manufacturers to submit safety evaluation reports to the Department of Transportation demonstrating how they address system safety, crashworthiness, and cybersecurity, among others.
Additionally, the AV START Act reinforces the traditional, existing roles played by the federal, state, and local governments pertaining to vehicle regulation.
I fully intend to continue working with Chairman Thune and Senator Peters to get this piece of legislation to the president’s desk.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Luke SchneiderPresidentAudi Mobility U.S.
Mr. Michael MansuettiPresidentRobert Bosch LLC
Dr. Randy AventProfessorFlorida Polytechnic University
Tim Kentley-KlayCo-Founder and CEOZoox