The Federation of American Scientists is seeking to engage experts across the transportation policy space who can leverage their expertise to help FAS identify a set of grand solutions around transportation issues and advanced research priorities for DOT to consider. Priority topic areas include but are not limited to: metropolitan safety, rural safety, resilient and climate prepared infrastructure, digital infrastructure, expediting “mega projects,” and logistics. You can read more about these topic areas in depth here.

What We’re Looking For

We ask that you set aside pre-existing thinking about why things won’t work and avoid tunneling toward incremental approaches. Rather, we ask that you start from the end and imagine a future we want to see for transportation in the United States, and then think about what big changes need to occur to get there. 

  • Think Big and Above: What has been holding back the progress from these attempted solutions, and what if we created a new capability that unlocks dramatic improvements for current attempts and/or breaks ground on a new path forward?
  • Identify and Embrace Risk: Participants should tether their solutions-oriented thinking around the risks of failure across technology, markets, finance, regulation, and persons, communities, and ecosystem domains. Considering these domains, what is the reason for stalled progress from existing efforts, do some barriers or domains matter more than others, and how might we “solutionize” around these?
  • Ambitiously Iterate: A successful participant will embrace and manage the risks of their idea effectively, adapt their approach in light of new evidence or better means, and tap into their wide network of knowledge and expertise.
  • Grounded by the Future: Pursue sky’s-the-limit ideas—but make them compelling by running them to ground with potential strategies to achieve scale.

Sample Idea

Informed by input from non-federal subject matter experts

Problem: Urban and suburban environments are complex, with competing uses for public space across modes and functions – drivers, transit users, cyclists, pedestrians, diners, etc.    Humans are prone to erratic, unpredictable, and distracted driving behavior, and when coupled with speed, vehicle size, and infrastructure design, such behaviors can cause injury, death, property damage, and transportation system disruption. A decade-old study from NHTSA – at a time when roadway fatalities were approximately 25% lower than current levels – found that the total value of societal harm from crashes in 2010 was $836 billion. 

Opportunity: What if the relationships between the driver, the environment (including pedestrians), and the vehicle could be personalized?

  • Driver-to-Vehicle: Using novel data gathered from cars’ sensors, driver smartphones, and other collectible data, design a feedback loop that customizes Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) to unique driving behavior signatures.
  • Vehicle-to-Environment: Using V2I/V2X and geofencing technologies to govern and harmonize speed and lane operations that optimize max speeds for safety in unique street contexts.
  • Driver-to-Environment: Blending both D2V and V2E technologies, develop integrated awareness of the surrounding environment that alerts drivers of potential risks in parked (e.g., car door opening to a bike lane) and moving states (e.g., approaching car).

Challenges and Considerations 

  • To what extent is it possible to gather unique data and operationalize it within specific conditions?  
  • In constructing driver profiles, how would privacy be preserved?
  • Beyond school zones and bike lanes, what other environments would make sense to geofence and why? 
  • At what points should industry be brought in? What cars would test to make a representative sample? What cities would you partner with to make a representative sample?

Program Objective 

  • Driver-to-Vehicle: (1) Identify the totality of usable driver data within the vehicular environment, from car sensors to phone usage; (2) develop a series of driver profiles that will build the foundation for human-centered, personalized ADAS that can both intervene in an emergency and nudge behavior change through informational updates, intuitive behavioral feedback, or modifying vehicle operations (e.g., acceleration); (3) develop dynamic, intelligent ADAS systems that customize to driver signatures based on preset profiles and experiential, local training of the algorithm; (4) establish this as a proof of concept for a novel, personalized ADAS and architect a grand-challenge for industry to improve upon this personalized, human-centered ADAS with key target metrics; (5) create a regulatory framework mandating Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to include a baseline level of ADAS, given the results of the grand challenge.
  • Vehicle-to-Environment: (1) Design the universal mobile application or geofence trigger that will contour virtual boundaries for a set of diverse, transferrable streets (e.g., school zones) and characteristics (e.g., bike lanes); (2) engage OEMs to design and integrate the geofence triggers with the human-centered ADAS and/or another vehicle-based receiver within a test fleet of different car types to modify vehicle responses to the geofence criteria as outlined by the pilot cities; (3) broker partnerships with 10 cities to identify a menu of geofence criteria, pilot the use of them, and establish a mechanism to measure before-and-after outcomes and comparisons from neighboring regions;
  • Driver-to-Environment: integrate ADAS with the geofence trigger to develop an advanced and dynamic situational awareness environment for drivers that is customized to their profile and based on built environment conditions such as bike lanes and school zones, as well as weather, high traffic, and time of day.


  • Digital transportation networks can communicate personalized information with drivers through their cars in a uniform medium and with a goal of augmenting safety in each of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.

Submit Your Idea

Scoping Ideas for an Advanced Research Portfolio at the Department of Transportation

Submit your idea!

A specific pivotal problem and clear diagnosis.
Promising methods, approaches, or technologies.
Potential roadblocks to overcome.
A bold goal that could be demonstrated in 3–5 years.
What becomes possible if the program is successful and fully implemented.
How did you hear about us?(Required)