With 2012 right around the corner, we're sharing some of the top accomplishments from each of DOT's agencies this year. Today, we look at the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA).
The Research and Innovative Technology Administration is unique among DOT agencies because its responsibilities extend beyond a single way of moving people or cargo. RITA coordinates DOT's research programs and helps bring advanced technologies into America's transportation system. The professionals at RITA also offer vital transportation statistics and analysis, and they are part of an important national effort to improve education and training in critical transportation-related fields.
2011 was an exciting year for this technical team. Here is a brief sample of highlights:
- The Intelligent Transportation Systems – Joint Program Office (ITS-JPO) launched the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot.
This initiative consists of six Driver Acceptance Clinics, where researchers can observe how drivers respond to vehicles equipped with special technologies that communicate with other vehicles and with roadway infrastructure like traffic signals. Connected vehicles can provide more information about road conditions and the behavior of other vehicles so drivers can make better safety decisions behind the wheel. The clinics take place at automotive tracks. But in August, RITA awarded a contract for the Safety Pilot Model Deployment of the same connected vehicle technology. This will include approximately 3,000 vehicles equipped with ITS technology operating on public roads under more typical driving conditions.
- RITA ran a new competition for the University Transportation Center (UTC) grant program. The fully competitive UTC program will make grants to eligible nonprofit institutions of higher learning selected to establish and operate University Transportation Centers. The UTCs are expected to pursue research, transportation workforce development, and technology transfers. Selections will be announced near the beginning of 2012.
- The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) expanded the collection of tarmac time data in August to include reports of three-hour tarmac times for all commercial flights at U.S. airports. BTS now receives reports of three-hour tarmac times for all domestic and international flights, scheduled or charter. Previously BTS only received reports about scheduled flights operated by the large carriers that report on-time data. With the new data, managers of the aviation system will have more information about problem areas, and the DOT enforcement office will be able to take more effective action on behalf of consumers.
I think it's pretty clear from this brief sample of highlights that the folks at RITA are working hard to ensure that the nation's transportation research investments produce results for the American people. Whether Americans of tomorrow are driving safer vehicles, arriving at their destinations with more reliable on-time rates, or enjoying the expertise of better trained transportation professionals, they'll be enjoying the fruits of RITA's labors.
My congratulations and thanks to everyone at RITA for a terrific 2011.