USDOT Unveils Five Year $5B Research Plan

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently released a research plan for fiscal years 2022-2026 that will guide $5 billion worth of funding provided via the $1.2 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA enacted in November 2021.

[Above photo by the USDOT]

Unveiled January 11, the new research plan aims to “support, foster, and safeguard transportation innovation” in line with the innovation principles USDOT rolled out in 2022.

Dr. Robert Hampshire. Photo by the USDOT.

“We recognize that the work of research, development, and technology deployment takes collaborative effort across the public, private, academic and non-profit sectors,” said Dr. Robert Hampshire, USDOT deputy assistant secretary for research and technology and chief science officer, in a statement.

“In this time of rapid change and experimentation, research must drive the learning necessary for the public sector to keep pace with technological advancement and to adapt to evolving socio-economic needs,” he added. “By providing a vision for a future transportation system made possible by research, we seek to foster collaborative innovation to create a better transportation future for all.”

Dr. Hampshire noted that this plan also provides a “long-term vision” for how research and technology deployment can help transform our nation’s transportation system, while guiding transportation research, development, and technology deployment activities over the next five years. The plan’s $5 billion worth of funding will go towards a range of initiatives, including:

  • Providing $500 million in funding to the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation or SMART program to kick start a “new generation” of smart city innovation.
  • Investing in University Transportation Centers that work on climate, equity, and innovation – including at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other educational institutions serving minorities.
  • Establishing an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Infrastructure (ARPA-I) to scale up research and development efforts to keep pace with and to drive innovation.
  • Authorizing $50 million per year in funding to establish a new “Open Research Initiative” to accelerate the achievement of the Department’s priorities and goals by funding unsolicited research proposals that yield disruptive technologies with high-impact potential.
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