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Government warns US could fall behind in transportation tech


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America's roads, railways and public vehicles are aging, and the Department of Transportation believes that if things remain as they are, the system will be a "fossil" that's light-years behind its more high-tech counterparts in Asia by 2045. That's why the DOT has published a study called "Beyond Traffic," (PDF) which warns that if the US government doesn't "encourage... or put a plan in place to regulate" new technologies, the country will fall far behind, with electric vehicles (and similar tech) becoming mere novelties. This study, which is also a draft framework of the department's plans in the next 30 years, suggests the more widespread adoption of transportation tech coming out today. In particular, the paper mentioned anti-collision systems that could prevent more accidents, next-gen location tech that could make airspace safer and plane takeoff/landing faster, as well as apps that relay transit schedules and traffic data to users in real time.

The department wants to upgrade existing infrastructures, as well, because the lack of public transit in many places has been hampering people's everyday living. A good testament to that is James Robertson, whom you might have recently seen on various news outlets, thanks to the college student who set up a GoFundMe to raise money for his new car. Why? Because Robertson has been walking a whopping 21 miles everyday for the last decade to get to work due to Detroit's serious lack of public transit.

The department wants to spend $120 billion on highways and bridges between 2015 and 2020, up from the current annual budget of $83.1 billion. It also wants to earmark $43 billion for the vehicles and structures needed to make them work, as opposed to the current annual spending of $17.1 billion. As we've mentioned earlier, though, the Beyond Traffic framework is but a draft, and DOT needs your input to write up the final version. If you've been keeping a pulse on transportation tech (or just transportation, in general), simply go to the official Beyond Traffic website and click the Share Your Ideas banner on the right-hand menu to let the government know what you think.

[Image credit: GETTY / 3dan3]

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