Uber, Apple, Amazon and Sully Sullenberger walk into a bar – er, self-driving car committee

Execs recruited onto US govt panel, will meet next week

The US government has pulled together a high-powered bunch of execs to form a new committee focused on self-driving cars.

The advisory committee, set up by Uncle Sam's Department of Transportation, boasts among its 25 members the CEO of General Motors, two mayors, several academics, top execs from Apple, Google, Amazon, Uber and Lyft, and hero pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who last seen crashing a plane into the Hudson. The gang will meet for the first time next week.

It's not entirely clear what the committee is going to do, however. The official blurb said it would "immediately begin work on some of the most pressing and relevant matters facing transportation today," but didn't provide any more details beyond a vague note about automated vehicles.

The committee will also "determine the needs of the Department as it continues with its relevant research, policy, and regulations" – which seems both vague and extremely unlikely.

Transportation secretary (for the next week) Anthony Foxx said the committee would "work to advance life-saving innovations while boosting our economy and making our transportation network more fair, reliable, and efficient." That also seems a little far-fetched.

And the last stab at defining what it will do comes in the claim that the committee will "play a critical role in sharing best practices, challenges, and opportunities in automation, and will open lines of communication so stakeholders can learn and adapt based on feedback from each other."

In other words, it's a meeting of the great and the good that will allow US government reps to bend ears and CEOs to network with one another. Still, it would be interesting to be in the room. We wonder if Apple will admit to its self-driving car program or just pretend it's there for the coffee and cakes. ®




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