New DOT Secretary Elaine Chao to guide EV, autonomous vehicle programs

trump transportation head elaine chao route 101 california  ventura highway
oscity / 123RF Stock Photo
Federal auto tech programs get a new leader. Former labor secretary Elaine Chao was chosen as transportation secretary in the Donald Trump administration’s cabinet, to replace Anthony Foxx, the current secretary, according to CNN. After confirmation, Chao will have oversight in shaping and implementing rules, regulations, policies, and guidelines of U.S. automotive innovation as the head of the Department of Transportation (DOT),

Zero-emissions vehicles including all-electric cars, vehicle fuel consumption mandates, emissions standards, autonomous vehicles, charging station infrastructure deployment, and vehicle cyber security have all been actively in play in the automotive industry in the U.S. and worldwide. Under Foxx, especially during the past six months, the DOT has issued recommendations and guidelines and announced policies and actions affecting all major areas of automotive technology development.

As Transportation Secretary, Chao will also be responsible for U.S. infrastructure programs including roads and highways, bridges, and airports. The infrastructure project will require a spending bill passing through Congress and public works projects backed by the government.

Like all cabinet members of the new administration, Chao will not officially have the job for a while. First President-elect Trump has to be inaugurated. Then Trump  presents his cabinet nominees to the U.S. Senate for confirmation.

As the Transportation Secretary nominee, Chao will be in an unusual but not a unique situation. Senator Mitch McConnell, Chao’s husband since 1993,  is the incoming majority leader of the same body that must vote to confirm her appointment. Elizabeth Dole, who was Transportation Secretary from 1983 to 1987, was married to Senator Bob Dole, majority leader from 1985 to 1987, making Ms. Dole the first Cabinet member to serve while her spouse was in that leadership position.

Chao, the first Asian-American to serve in a U.S. cabinet position, was Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush’s administration from 2001 through 2009. She previously had served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation from 1989 to 1991 in the administration of President George H.W. Bush. As secretary, Chao will arrive as DOT head not only as an experienced two-time former cabinet member but also with experience as the No. 2 executive in the same department she will be leading.

In announcing Chao’s nomination, Trump said in a statement, “Secretary Chao’s extensive record of strong leadership and her expertise are invaluable assets in our mission to rebuild our infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner. She has an amazing life story and has helped countless Americans in her public service career. I am pleased to nominate Elaine as Secretary of the Department of Transportation,” as reported by NPR.


Apple’s interest in self-driving cars reported to be revving up

A new report suggests that Apple is in talks with a number of suppliers to purchase lidar sensors, an essential tool for self-driving cars. The news is once again spiking rumors that Apple might be building vehicles.

21 charged in Chicago carsharing heist; 100+ cars stolen, many still missing

More than 100 Mercedes-Benz vehicles belonging to carsharing service Car2Go were stolen in Chicago. Police are still working to recover all of the cars, which are equipped with GPS, and 21 people have been charged.
Emerging Tech

Sweden is building a road that recharges electric buses that drive over it

The Swedish transport administration is exploring special roads which will charge vehicles’ batteries as they drive over them. It will test the idea with a short sample stretch of road.

Apple has a weird issue with its second-generation Pencil

Apple has a bizarre issue with its second-generation Pencil. The company says that if it's in charging mode and is positioned close to a car's key fob, interference can prevent the device from unlocking the vehicle.

More tech and more space make the Mercedes-Benz GLS the S-Class of the SUV world

Mercedes-Benz introduced the second-generation GLS at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The company's biggest and most luxurious SUV gains more tech features in its quest to become the S-Class of the SUV world.

Would you buy the Tarok compact pickup truck? Volkswagen wants to know

The Volkswagen Tarok pickup truck concept will make its United States debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The truck first appeared at the 2018 Sao Paulo Auto Show, and VW wants to see what U.S. buyers think of it.

Sick of civilization? Volkswagen’s Atlas Basecamp concept lets you get away

Volkswagen revealed the Atlas Basecamp concept ahead of its debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. Built for overlanding, this family-hauler was upgraded jointly by Volkswagen and aftermarket manufacturers.

The 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo sheds weight, uses racing tricks to stay sharp

The 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo isn't dramatically different from the 2019 model, but Nissan made changes where it counts. The updated GT-R Nismo is lighter and offers better aerodynamic performance, according to Nissan.

Nikola previews $80K NZT off-road EV speedster with 590 horsepower

Nikola Motor is taking reservations for the NZT, a high-performance, all-electric off-highway vehicle (OHV). The $80,000 NZT has 590 horsepower, 775 foot-pounds of torque, and reaches 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds.

Bored with stock? The best tuner cars are begging to be modified

Modification has been around almost as long as the automobile itself. Here are 25 of the best tuner cars you can find, ranging from American muscle standouts to Japanese drift cars.

The VR goggles you wear to shoot alien ships is helping Magna design car parts

Canadian automotive supplier Magna has started using virtual reality in its research and development department. The technology helps engineers get a better view of what they're working on, whether it's an interior part or a powertrain.

From rugged wagons to hot sports cars, the 2019 NY Auto Show brought it all

From city cars to supercars, anything goes at the New York Auto Show. Automakers from all over the globe traveled to the 2019 show to unveil their newest concept cars and production models.

Toyota leads $1 billion investment in Uber’s self-driving tech division

In a move that has been a long time coming, Uber filed its S-1 documents, which sets the stage for the company to finally go public with an initial public offering. The company could be valued at more than $100 billion.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Samsung Galaxy Fold woes, zombie pigs, and more

Today's topics: Samsung Galaxy Fold, Facebook A.I. voice assistants, YouTube comes to Fire TV, facial recognition on airline flights, the SpaceX DART program, Yale's zombie pigs, and much more!