Click here to watch Mr. Panos’ testimony.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), welcomed Bill Panos, director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation, to the committee. Panos was testifying before the committee at a hearing on “Innovation and America’s Infrastructure: Examining the Effects of Emerging Autonomous Technologies on America’s Roads and Bridges.”

Barrasso introduced Panos to the committee prior to his testimony. “I am pleased to welcome Mr. Bill Panos, who serves as the director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

“He is a graduate of the California State University, where he received a degree in Forensic Science and Technology. 

“Before moving to Wyoming, he accrued 37 years of experience leading private and public service organizations.

“Bill has also served as director of Wyoming’s School Facilities Department,” said Barrasso.

In his written testimony, Panos touched on some of the reasons for the increased anticipation of the deployment of automated vehicles, including increased innovation from industry makers. He also pointed to the potential to increase highway safety and improve quality of life. “Others include consumer demand and the potential for increased safety, as human error is a factor in so many crashes. Also, many that are less mobile, such as senior citizens and people with disabilities, see CAVs as a tremendous boost to their mobility and quality of life. So, for a variety of reasons, the deployment is coming,” said Panos.

Panos also discussed how state departments of transportation are focused on addressing infrastructure needs for automated vehicles. “As the owners of a significant amount of the highway transportation infrastructure, state DOTs are at the forefront of preparing for deployment of CAV’s [connected and automated vehicles], including ensuring that the current infrastructure is in a state of good repair such that any vehicle can operate on it in a safe and effective manner. In addition, many state DOTs are starting to plan, design, deploy, operate, and maintain the technology needed for CAVs, including vehicles equipped with ADS [automated driving system] and vehicles connected to each other and the infrastructure.”

Panos said that greater collaboration between state departments of transportation and industry manufacturers are needed. “Currently, state DOTs (and other infrastructure owners) are uncertain, at least at a detailed level, which roadway characteristics are critically important to the safe and efficient operation of ADS.  Aspects of ADS have been developed in the absence of significant collaboration between the infrastructure owners and technology developers. Thus, state DOTs want a clearer consensus on infrastructure needs from the technology developers,” he said.

Addressing infrastructure needs for automated vehicles can be achieved through several means. One is standard setting. Panos notes “requirements for infrastructure readiness should be the same across state boundaries so an ADS vehicle can function well anywhere in the country.” Another way is through “partnership with state and local agencies and other private sector partners who own and operate the transportation infrastructure.” Panos also recommends an increase in federal funding for testing automated vehicle infrastructure. “This will enable infrastructure owners and technology developers to better understand each other’s requirements. That should lead to better standards and, ultimately, better infrastructure,” Panos said.

For more information on Panos’ testimony, click here.