WORCESTER BUSINESS JOURNAL
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao challenged the automotive and technology industries on Sunday to help governors and the Trump administration break down public concerns over self-driving cars, drones and other autonomous vehicles, touting their potential to improve lives and safety.
Chao, the former U.S. labor secretary and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, met with governors on Sunday afternoon during the second day of the National Governors Association winter meetings.
Though Chao said automated technologies have the potential to help under-served populations like the elderly and disabled and cut down on road fatalities attributable to human error, she called public acceptance of the technology “one of the biggest barriers” to its development.
I also want to issue a challenge to Silicon Valley, Detroit and all of the auto industry hubs to step up and help educate a skeptical public about the benefits of automated technologies,” Chao said.
Gov. Rick Snyder, a Michigan Republican, said he was “fired up” to work on the issue, and agreed on the need for education.
Chao said the Department of Transportation has approved 10 applications so far for automated vehicle proving grounds, and sees potential in the technology to lower the number of fatal car crashes, of which 94 percent can be attributed to human error. She also said UPS is testing a drone delivery service in Florida and some states like Kentucky are using drones to assist firefighters and do safety inspections on rail lines.
Many of the governors acknowledged concerns with the technology, but expressed excitement about its potential. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducy called his state the “Kitty Hawk” of autonomous cars, and said he has personally test-ridden in three.