RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN THE TECHNOLOGY OF TRANSPORTATION- LET'S REACH FOR BLUE SKY

W. L. Polhemus and R. W. Lilley

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: Air Traffic delays at Boston, New York, Chicago and other hubs; traffic jams on the highways of every major community in the U.S.; and restrictions to free movement of maritime vessels on inland waterways and in harbors during periods of reduced visibility, give evidence of inadequacies in the nation’s navigation, surveillance and control technology. The cost to the nation each year in lost productivity due to automobile traffic jams is probably not measurable, but recall if you will the situation each workday morning and evening on any major highway leading into or out of New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., or the hundreds of large communities which provide the work environment for most U.S. citizens. How is it that following the forecast expenditure of several billion dollars on modernization of its Air Traffic Management system the FAA will continue to be unable to account for the VFR aircraft and those operating in hilly terrain or at low altitude below the radar horizon? Here we are in 1984 capable of redezvousing in space, landing on the moon, observing the rings of Saturn, but when the weather comes down on the Mississippi the $lOM tow boats and their quarter-mile long strings of barges have to “tie to the bank” and on the St. Lawrence Seaway, negotiation of the waterway and particularly the locks and canals by the Lake Carriers and the ‘Salties’ virtually comes to a halt. Well, you say, maybe these are problems today, but surely they will not be so in the future! Is that really the case? We see no evidence within the R&D community of the kind of really blue sky, long-term, persistent, properly-funded, sustaining effort at the national level necessary to assure that the U.S. will be fully capable of safely, efficiently and economically meeting its future transportation needs. Almost all so-called R&D activities of any significance being conducted by our U.S. DOT today are reactions to near-term problems. Where do the really blue sky thinkers hang out? We believe that it is in this nation’s best interest to promote, sustain and protect, through statute and through bipartisan funding a permanent transportation systems research facility. It should be free of the annual perturbations experienced by the operating agencies of the Department of Transportation and should have a clearly-stated mandate to concern itself with the exploration and evaluation of technology appropriate to the future needs of all modes of transportation.
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 31, Number 3
Pages: 200 - 208
Cite this article: Polhemus, W. L., Lilley, R. W., "RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN THE TECHNOLOGY OF TRANSPORTATION- LET'S REACH FOR BLUE SKY", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 31, No. 3, Fall 1984, pp. 200-208.
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