The Transportation Department is Funding Autonomous Drones
The Department of Transportation’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center is seeking vendors to develop A.I. tools for autonomous drones. It is also seeking to expand its understanding of ways in which autonomous vehicles could be hacked or manipulated by malicious actors. The solicitation is open only to vendors situated within 25 miles of Arlington, VA, and requires secure facilities for storing and testing autonomous vehicles (both drones and automobiles). Regarding potentially malicious uses, it reads that “the dynamic and rapid advancement in, and ad hoc application of, machine learning in vehicle platforms…requires [the government] to quickly assess usage that individuals may attempt that could present unsafe conditions on our roadways, waterways and airspace.” A key phrase in this quotation is the idea of “ad hoc” application, underscoring the uncertainty of where AI will be applied and integrated, an uncertainty that is itself based on the rapid development of the technology and its yet-unknown limits.