November–December Newsletter: Safely Integrating Drones, How Demographics are Shaping Transportation, Honoring our Veterans, and More

U.S. DOT Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

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U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology 

December 22, 2017

Safely Integrating Drones into the National Airspace

By 2021, there could be 4 million remotely piloted aircraft—commonly referred to as drones—in the hands of hobbyists and commercial users. Safely and efficiently integrating the coming influx of drones into our nation’s airspace creates a variety of technical, operational, and regulatory challenges. Recently, the U.S. DOT's Volpe Center worked closely with the U.S. Air Force and the Ohio Department of Transportation to test technologies that may enable safe and efficient flight of small drones. Read the full story.

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Event News and Video

Transforming Transportation

See video highlights and news from our 2017 speaker series, The Ongoing Transformation of the Global Transportation System.

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How Much Time Do Americans Spend Behind the Wheel?

U.S. DOT Volpe Center Chief Economist Don Pickrell and a team of Volpe data experts recently completed an in-depth study for the Federal Highway Administration to produce detailed statistics on travel speeds and vehicle hours traveled that can provide new levels of insight into how the nation’s roads are performing. Read more and watch video highlights.


Inside 93 Case Studies on Cargo Tank Rollovers—Plus, 5 Recommendations for Hazmat Transportation

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration turned to U.S. DOT’s Volpe Center to investigate current training programs and the causes behind 93 real-life hazmat tanker truck rollovers, and to develop recommendations to improve cargo tank safety. Read the full story.

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Report to Congress Explores Safety and Security Technologies for Alternative Transportation Infrastructure

A recent report to Congress offers data on safety and security incidents at alternative transportation facilities—like bicycle lanes, walking paths, and transit stations—and provides recommendations for innovative technologies that could address some of the most urgent risks to the traveling public. Read the full story.


This Long-Range Transportation Plan is a First for the National Park Service

To provide service-wide guidance on maintaining and improving various transportation assets, the National Park Service recently released its first National Long-Range Transportation Plan, a 20-year vision plan that a team of Volpe planners helped develop. Read the full story.

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Keeping the Transportation Workforce Up-to-Date on Intelligent Technology

The world of intelligent transportation systems is complex. There are mobile apps that riders use to pay for transit, and vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication networks that have the potential to save thousands of lives. The U.S. DOT Intelligent Transportation Systems Professional Capacity Building Program provides flexible, accessible ITS learning for the transportation workforce. Read the full story.

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The Volpe Center Honors Staff Who Served in the U.S. Military

As the nation observed Veterans Day on November 11, we honored the many veterans who have transitioned from military service into a civil service career at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center. Meet some of our veterans.


Leveraging the Space Above Our Heads and the Emergent eVTOL Market

Getting stuck in traffic isn’t just a nuisance. On an aggregate level, traffic can have major financial impacts for cities and countries. Aviation innovator Carl C. Dietrich, PhD, co-founder and chief technology officer of Terrafugia, explains the potential to use the space right above our heads to relieve automobile congestion. Read more and watch video highlights.

Joseph Coughlin speaking at the U.S. DOT's Volpe Center

Transportation in a World that is Gray, Delayed, Small, and Female

Joseph F. Coughlin, founder and director of the MIT AgeLab, discussed how an aging American population will shape the nation's transportation system. Read more and watch video highlights.


Putting Safety in the Driver's Seat

Technology is advancing, societal trends are changing, and new visions for self-driving vehicles are emerging. Harry Lightsey of General Motors provides the manufacturer's perspective on how self-driving cars are putting safety in the driver's seat. Read more and watch video highlights.

Volpe Experts in the Field

Volpe staff engaged in the following noteworthy activities in November and December:

  • Automated Vehicles and Human Factors: Don Fisher, PhD, was a panelist at an Impact of Vehicle Technologies and Automation on Users conference sponsored by TRB and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The conference brought together leading researchers from around the world in human factors and automated vehicles.
  • Automated Vehicle Safety: A Volpe Center team led by Matt Cuddy, PhD, assisted with the U.S. DOT Roundtable on Data for Automated Vehicle Safety. The roundtable, sponsored by the Office of the Secretary and executed by ITS JPO, focused on data exchanges to accelerate the safe rollout of automated vehicles (AVs). Participants included automakers; technology companies focused on AV development; and states, counties, and cities active in AV deployments.
  • Aviation: Gregg Fleming co-chaired the International Civil Aviation Organization/Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection’s Modeling and Databases and Forecast and Economic Analysis Support Groups meetings. U.S. and European industry representatives, along with government officials from more than 12 countries, attended the meeting.
  • Aviation Infrastructure and Safety: Sharon Chan Edmiston participated in the Third World Aviation Forum sponsored by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which includes a specific focus on financing aviation infrastructure and capacity development in Africa.
  • Global Maritime Domain Awareness: Brendon Providence and Henry Wychorski completed deployments of Automatic Identification System (a tracking system used on ships) equipment in the Philippines. Under sponsorship of the Department of Defense, the Volpe Center is working with the Philippine National Coast Watch Center to expand the Maritime Safety and Security Information System network in the region.
  • Surface Transportation Innovation: Anthony Thomas presented on emerging trends in surface transportation at the Association of General Contractors for New York State’s Construction Industry Conference. He also provided an overview on the technologies, capabilities, and potential impacts on the transportation system.
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): David Senzig trained Department of Defense personnel to use the low-cost, light-weight UAS tracking system developed at the Volpe Center.

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