A new federal council has been created that may help bridge the gap between the federal government and the current state of autonomous vehicle laws and regulations being adopted by cities and states across the country. The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Elaine Chao, announced yesterday at the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW), the creation of a new council to help further the advancement of autonomous vehicles, among other technologies.  The Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council will identify and resolve jurisdictional and regulatory gaps that may impede the deployment of new technology, such as tunneling, hyperloop, autonomous vehicles, and other innovations.

Secretary Chao noted that technologies may not fit within the USDOT’s existing regulatory structure, which can impede transportation innovation. The NETT Council will address these challenges and give project sponsors a single point of access to discuss plans and proposals. The NETT Council is seen as a major step forward for USDOT in reducing regulatory burdens and paving the way for emerging technologies in the transportation industry. NETT will be chaired by Deputy Secretary Jeffrey Rosen and vice chaired by Undersecretary of Transportation for Policy Derek Kan. Other seats will be occupied by modal administrators and other high-ranking DOT officials. NETT will hold its organizing meeting this week and will first take on the topic of tunneling technologies seeking various approvals in several states.