PRIORITY AREA: TRANSPORTATION VEHICLESTransportation system characteristics--performance, safety, security, cost, environmental impact, economic consequences, contribution to quality of life--are largely determined by vehicles that carry people and goods. Vehicles are also a major part of the national economy: the use of private automobiles involves expenditures of over $500 billion annually (more than $160 billion for purchase of new and used cars), and the US produces $27 billion worth of transport aircraft each year. There is growing concern about the societal impacts of transportation, particularly motor vehicles, on air quality, global warming and energy use. Major opportunities exist for significant innovation in several areas, as described below.
OverviewUS firms and workers have led the world in the manufacture of aircraft, engines, avionics, and air transportation system equipment. In the process, they have made a major contribution to our Nation's security and economy. Aeronautics manufacturing has meant high technology, high-quality jobs, and a positive contribution to our balance of trade. American leadership in aeronautics has also provided global benefits through the economic and cultural exchange and integration made possible through a truly global transportation system.
The growth of this industry, since the infancy of powered flight, has been the result of a strong partnership between the government, industry, and universities. Government investment in aeronautics has been focused on science, technology, infrastructure, and military aviation. This investment, worked in close partnership with industry, provided the conditions for industry success in aeronautics. A government-to-industry technology "pipeline" developed, fueling the rapid advancement of aviation.
Recently, however, the aeronautics industry has begun to face a number of difficult, new challenges. First, the end of the Cold War has permitted a reduction in defense expenditures, including significant cut backs in development of new aircraft and engines. Second, the weak financial state of the global airline industry has seriously affected orders, backlogs, and deliveries of new civil aircraft. Third, foreign governments have strongly supported the development of their own aeronautics suppliers, challenging US competitiveness in this industry.
Although the combination of these factors has had a significant impact on the industry, the US is still the leader in aeronautics technology and manufacturing. Nationally, we have the infrastructure--government, industry, and universities--to maintain leadership. We must maintain leadership in this global industry if we are to retain the national security and economic benefits that derive from aeronautics. Partnership will once again be the key to meeting national challenges and accomplishing national goals. However, we must now reexamine our traditional partnership in the context of the current and future challenges. Clearly, we must develop an integrated view of aviation system performance and affordability.
The aeronautics industry represents the strength of American manufacturing. High technology manufacturing and products support over a million high quality jobs and thousands of companies. Superior, next- generation US aircraft, engines, avionics, and air transportation system equipment can lead the way to renewed industrial competitiveness for the 21st century, supporting an industrial base that is critical to our national economy and security. Maintaining this technological superiority in the face of subsidized international competition, financially weakened global airlines, and reduced defense expenditures will require a strong partnership among government, industry, and academia. The Federal government must continue its investment in high-risk technologies with potentially high, but long-term, social and economic benefits. The private sector lacks the resources and incentive to invest in these areas since the benefits of such high-risk investment can not be realized until far in the future and are difficult for a single firm to fully capture. But the challenges of the current and future markets require that government and industry work together to identify the focus of government-funded cooperative research.
Major ObjectivesMajor program objectives of aeronautics research are:
Challenges and New OpportunitiesIt is critical that the US pursue the development of high-payoff component technologies, integration and validation of high-risk technologies, and exploration of new system concepts and configurations to achieve more revolutionary gains. The following challenges and opportunities are critical to maintaining US competitiveness and improving the affordability of aviation:
OverviewSpace policy is an important topic in the National Science and Technology Council, which incorporated the functions of the National Space Council. The Administration's space transportation policy, as spelled out in Presidential Decision Directive NSTC-4, "National Space Transportation Policy," sets a clear course for the launch policy part of the nation's space program. It provides a coherent strategy for supporting and strengthening US space launch capability to meet the needs of the civilian, national security, and commercial sectors.
Ideas for improving the nation's space launch systems range from evolving expendable vehicles and shuttle upgrades to single-stage-to-orbit concepts, air-breathing systems, and even more exotic ideas. There is a shortage of Federal funds to pursue all promising ideas, however, and budget limits continue to be a painful but very necessary reality if we are to be fiscally responsible.
The US space launch fleet is aging and costly. Major private sector investments in expendable launch vehicles have helped maintain a US competitive presence in the international market, which has in turn helped hold down launch costs for the US government. Unfortunately, the private sector cannot bear the full burden of improving US space launch systems alone. Growing foreign competition, now including Russia and China, has cut into the market share of US firms and declining defense budgets have contributed to significant over capacity in traditional expendable launch vehicles. The continuing downsizing and consolidation we have seen in the defense industry has included major space launch manufacturers as well.
Looking ahead, it is expected that government spending for space will remain relatively constant while the commercial space sector demand grows. New commercial opportunities, such as mobile satellite communications, direct audio broadcasts, remote sensing, and satellite-based navigation systems underscore the importance of space to the emerging global information infrastructure. These information-driven industries will be a cornerstone of US competitiveness for decades to come, and dependable, affordable access to space will be crucial to US economic interests. In light of this, commercial requirements will be a necessary and integral part of planning any successful next generation launch system.
Key FindingResearch is needed for the improvement and evolution of the current expendable space launch fleet and development of future reusable space transportation systems with substantially reduced cost.
Major ObjectivesMajor program objectives of space transportation are:
Challenges and New Opportunities
Personal (Light-Duty) Motor Vehicles
OverviewOne of the strategic goals of Federal transportation R&D is enhancing the overall performance characteristics of vehicles of all types, while expanding the range of alternatives available for meeting transportation needs. Fundamental to achieving this goal is the ability to draw on relevant technology resulting from Federal and private sector R&D activities. If that process can be made effective, the US may maintain and enhance its position as a technical leader and primary exporter of transportation-related equipment and services.
Private automobiles alone account for expenditures of over $500 billion annually in the US, and for approximately half of US petroleum use. Vehicle- miles-traveled continue to increase more rapidly than population and there are now more cars than licensed drivers in the US. The functional characteristics of the automobile and widespread private vehicle ownership virtually assure the automobile's dominant role in transportation for the indefinite future. At the same time, in spite of continuing improvements, automobiles remain a major cause of degraded urban air quality and a large contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide, and are involved in most transportation-related deaths and injuries--approximately 40,000 fatalities per year.
The automotive industry directly affects the characteristics of the US transportation system with consequent profound effects on the domestic economy. About 15 percent of the US work force is employed in jobs directly or indirectly related to transportation, largely automobiles. Loss of market share of the domestic automotive industry has been a major contributor to the US trade deficit. In 1991, automobile imports cost $54 billion and resulted in a net trade deficit of $41 billion.
Recognizing the importance of the automotive industry to the country's economic well-being, the US government formed a historic new partnership with the US Council for Automotive Research (USCAR) representing the domestic automakers Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. The aim of the partnership is to strengthen US competitiveness by developing technologies for a new generation of vehicles. The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) was formally announced by President Clinton and Vice President Gore together with the CEOs of the Big Three US automakers at a White House ceremony on September 29, 1993.
The partnership is intended to provide the scientific foundation, policy, and institutional leadership on advanced vehicle technologies needed to develop affordable, highly efficient, low emission vehicles that will enhance the welfare of the Nation by contributing to economic competitiveness, energy security and improved environmental quality. The PNGV supports the Federal transportation R&D goals as well. Transportation R&D efforts will be in close coordination with the PNGV.
Key FindingThe private motor vehicle will remain central to transportation and to many facets of national life for the foreseeable future, with a very large world market. Advanced technologies such as alternative fuels, advanced propulsion systems, improved materials and manufacturing processes for application to the motor vehicle, are necessary to meet environmental and other societal goals. Focused research is also needed to support the development of an infrastructure for alternative transportation fuels and reduced-emission or zero-emission power systems.
Major ObjectivesThe following are the major program objectives of personal motor vehicle research:
Challenges and New OpportunitiesAchievement of further large improvements in vehicular technologies, as envisioned in the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, will necessarily be an extremely challenging undertaking. Given the degree to which the personal automobile is interwoven with American life, it is critical that the implications of alternative choices be clearly understood by individuals, manufacturers, and governments. The PNGV is critical, not only in improving the competitiveness of the automotive industry but also ensuring commercial readiness of energy efficient, environmentally friendly new generation of vehicles. Deployment of these vehicles into the population of privately owned automobiles will ensure that the US transportation system continues to offer mobility to an increasing population without restricting personal lifestyles or affecting the environment adversely. Challenges and opportunities for research include:
Medium and Heavy Duty Motor Vehicles (Trucks and Buses)
OverviewMedium and heavy duty trucks and buses represent a significant segment of the transportation sector in the US. Trucks and buses constitute 24 percent of the total number of vehicles that travel over US highways and streets, accumulate 29 percent of the vehicle miles associated with road-based vehicles, yet consume 45 percent of the energy used by road vehicles. In addition, trucks and buses contribute heavily to the pollution of our atmosphere and add to the growing concern about the societal impacts of motor vehicles on air quality and global warming. With transportation vehicles representing a major portion of the US economy, it is vital to maintain competitiveness of our US produced trucks and buses so that the Nation can continue, if not increase, our share of the vehicle world market. It is essential that research be directed at reestablishing and improving the position of the US as a technological leader and primary exporter of trucks and buses.
Key FindingIt is prudent that the US government direct R&D efforts toward major improvements in the overall performance characteristics of trucks and buses, particularly related to fuel economy and emission control, and in expanding the range of vehicle alternatives to satisfy local and intercity transportation needs.
Challenges and New Opportunities
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