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Strategic Goal 2 Enable and Expedite Innovation into the Transportation Enterprise

Strategic Goal 2 Enable and Expedite Innovation into the Transportation Enterprise

Provide leadership to the USDOT and the transportation community by accelerating, enabling, and facilitating transportation innovation through a variety of methods, including the advocacy of cross-cutting RD&T aligned with USDOT’s strategic goals.


Innovations have been introduced into the transportation system that involve all modes and that result in improvements in safety, congestion reduction, environmental stewardship and energy independence, global connectivity, organizational excellence, and overall transportation system performance.


To achieve its objective for enabling and expediting innovation within the transportation enterprise, RITA will:

  • Provide Thought Leadership and Identify Gaps and Priorities: Work across the Department and with the transportation community to anticipate and prioritize future transportation challenges and opportunities, identify technology and knowledge gaps, and enable needed innovations. Conduct forums and outreach in order to bring diverse communities together to find common ground and common understanding of challenges and strategies for tackling the Nation’s toughest transportation issues and achieving USDOT’s strategic goals.

  • Lead Multimodal Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T) and Accelerate the Implementation of Transportation Technology and Institutional Innovation: Serve as USDOT’s principal advocate for, and advisor on, multimodal transportation RD&T and RD&T investment, for both passenger and freight transportation issues, in step with achieving the USDOT’s goals and the Transportation Vision for 2030. Efforts in this area will be aligned with the following Communities of Interest:

    • Multimodal and Transportation Systems Research
      Contributes to a compelling vision of the 21st century transportation enterprise and supports decisionmaking in the development, management, operation, and financing of an integrated multimodal national and global transportation system that is safer, less congested, and meets the 21st century mobility needs for goods and people.

    • Safety Systems Management
      Serves as a national and international resource for knowledge exchanges on the acquisition, maintenance, distribution, and analysis of transportation safety data with the goal of reducing the number of transportation-related deaths and reducing the severity of transportation-related injuries and property damage.

    • Environmental Stewardship and Energy Independence
      Provides support at all levels of government and industry on decisionmaking relative to: (1) the selection, utilization, and impact associated with the use of alternative energy resources (e.g., petroleum, biofuels, electricity, and hydrogen) to power transportation enterprise; and (2) the impact and mitigation of transportation-related global warming, air, noise, and water pollution. Works to establish a multimodal approach to and program for addressing Departmental issues related to energy conservation and energy delivery.

    • Logistics and Transportation
      Enhance global connectivity through RITA’s overall freight transportation effort, which includes research on reducing related congestion at our borders, seaports, and on our major surface transportation corridors; national and international port operations and security; transportation and logistics chain resilience; freight demand modeling; and alternatives for freight infrastructure financing. Maintain overall cognizance of the implications of shifting global passenger and freight flows and their implication for the transportation and logistics infrastructure. Ensure knowledge exchange on resiliency of global transportation and logistics chains when subject to natural and man-made disruption.

    • Physical Infrastructure
      In the face of ever-increasing demand and accumulated loads, maintain cognizance and promote technical support in the inspection, maintenance, and rehabilitation of the existing and future transportation infrastructure including vehicles, guideways, and intermodal facilities. Maintain a knowledge base including utilization of new materials, engineering concepts, and institutional approaches to ensuring the infrastructure is safe, less congested, and resilient in its ability to respond to natural and man-made disturbances.

    • Navigation, Communication and Surveillance Infrastructure
      RITA serves as the focal point for the interagency coordination and understanding of the civil sector requirements and technologies for space and ground-based positioning, navigation, and timing systems in step with National Space Policy Directive-39. Navigation, Communication, and Surveillance is critical to the Nation’s transportation infrastructure and involves cross-cutting technology that supports multimodal applications.

    • Human Factor Research and Applications
      Provides means for knowledge exchange within the national and international community with the goal of advancing human factors research and its role in transportation safety and efficiency. Pioneers new inter-relationship between humans and current and emerging automation technology to enhance transportation safety, security, and productivity with due concern for the unintended consequences of automation.

    • Intelligent Transportation Systems
      Lead the research, development, and demonstration and accelerate the implementation of ITS solutions to achieve dramatic improvements in surface transportation safety, congestion reduction, and environmental sustainability. Improve situational awareness and real-time information on all roads and all modes to improve safety for the traveling public while reducing gridlock and its impact on our quality of life. Enable technologies to reduce congestion, including seamless electronic payment processing and integrated parking, transit, congestion pricing, and tolling and complete trip payment options. Foster new institutional relationships and partnerships to enable better use of technologies in transportation.

    • Materials
      New materials including nanotechnology will impact all areas of transportation and lead to a safer, less congested, and more efficient and cost-effective transportation network. Knowledge will be shared on new light-weight composite materials for transportation vehicles, materials with extended life for supporting infrastructure, and nano-structured catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells.

    • Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR): Through the SBIR program, invigorate small businesses in the United States to ensure that new technologies focus on smart transportation solutions. Link the SBIR program to the RPIC process in an effort to improve the return on investment and help ensure that the topics identified in each solicitation are consistent with USDOT strategic goals and Transportation Vision for 2030.