Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.
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LETTER WASHINGTON VIEW by DEE ANN DIVIS 39 unmanned systems inside February/March 2017 Ford Motor Company introduced its next-generation Fusion Hybrid autonomous development vehicle (above) in December. [See an interview with Ken Alexander, Ford's vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering on Page 58] Hyperloop One (lef t) is developing travel tubes for moving cargo, and eventually people, at hundreds of miles per hour. in the last 50 years," a change with profound implications for the country. "The vehicle technology," she said, "coupled with advancements in complementary tech- nologies like vehicle connectivity and electri- fication, have the potential to not only trans- form the way we get from point A to Point B but frankly the way we live." Garcetti suggested a light regulatory touch was the way to foster such innovation and that cooperation between local governments and technology firms—like the work his city is doing to gather and share data with companies—could inform both. "I think nobody understands the benefits and challenges of this technology bet- ter than local government." A number of members endorsed the idea of a light touch, stressing that firms need to be free to innovate and test out their ideas. "I think it's very hard for a large committee to make detailed engi- neering trade-offs in order to figure out how to maximize for safety," said Keller Rinaudo, CEO of Zipline Inter- national. "Another approach might be to figure out how we can encourage experiments at a small scale across the U.S.—in Obama's words 'Let a thou- sand f lowers bloom'—and then scale and spread those technologies that offer the biggest safety and customer benefit." Zipcar's Robin Chase summarized the issues raised during the meeting as falling into four "buckets" for future action—experimentation and prototyping, harmonization of federal, state and local regulations, safety issues, and the impacts that will come from the adoption of automated technology. Perhaps no one brought home the compli- cations on the horizon better, however, than Delanne Bernier, vice president of government relations for the Automotive Recylers Association. Speaking during the public comment period, she raised the question of what happens when it comes time to junk this new generation of ve- hicles. Many people are unaware, for example, that the batteries in electric cars may require special handling. "Some people have left lithi- um ion batteries out in fields and they blow up two weeks later," she said. Even though this technology is only just emerg- ing, regulators need to consider now what to do both practically and environmentally when it comes time to replace an electric vehicle or a driv- erless car, she suggested. "There is a fairly standardized way of dismantling end-of-life vehicles and handling them," Bernier said. "What about the future for new technologies?" Photos courtesy of General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Hyperloop One General Motors began testing its autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EV on public roads in California and Arizona in June 2016, expanding the testing to Michigan in December.