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PRIORITY AREA: TRANSPORTATION VEHICLES
Transportation 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.
US 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
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.
APPLICATIONS OF AERONAUTICS RESEARCH
In 1992, the National Research Council identified five areas where R&D
can have a major impact in aeronautics:
Lower Cost/Greater Convenience: Advances in aircraft speed, range, and
payload must not increase cost or degrade service. Greater fuel efficiency
and reduced operational costs must be vigorously pursued, and increases in
airport and air traffic management system capacity must not decrease
Greater passenger and cargo capacity: To open markets or expand them,
airports and the air traffic management system must be able to serve more
people and fly cargo on more and different kinds of aircraft. Safe reductions
in aircraft separation, better real-time weather reporting, and facilities for
a wide variety of long- and short-range aircraft all increase personal and
goods mobility, and thus benefit the industry and the economy.
Reduced environmental impact: Aircraft environmental impacts limit growth
of the industry. Aircraft noise restrictions limit the proximity of major
airports to large population centers, the utility of rotorcraft within cities,
and the potential for supersonic flight over land. In addition, a the impact
on the atmosphere of aircraft emissions is an area of growing concern that
may, in the near future, limit the number and types of aircraft that fly over
the United States and other environmentally conscious countries.
Greater aviation system safety: The safety of air travel in the US must
be maintained as more planes operate each year. This can be achieved through
better understanding of human performance in the cockpit and through
improvements in avionics, flight controls, and use of artificial intelligence
and fly-by-light/power-by-wire controls, and with improved non-destructive
inspection techniques. The safety of air traffic management can be improved
still futher by more-accurate and timely navigation information such as that
provided by the Global Positioning System, through real-time sensing and
communication of weather-related information, and through a improved
understanding of human performance in the management and control of air
Improved aircraft performance: Advances in performance of conventional
subsonic aircraft, rotorcraft, short take-off and landing aircraft, and
supersonic aircraft will enable more viable expansion into new markets and
expansion of existing routes in the US and throughout the world.
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 program objectives of aeronautics research are:
Maintain the superiority of US aircraft and engines.
Achieve an efficient, safe, and affordable global air transportation
Ensure the long-term environmental compatibility of the aviation system.
Challenges and New Opportunities
It 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:
Ensure Superiority of US Aircraft and Engines: A prerequisite for superior
aircraft is technological superiority in aeronautics. The US must continue to
develop the product and process technologies required for timely development
of superior subsonic and high-speed civil and military aircraft. Pursuit of
technologies that support major improvements in aircraft capabilities
(including operating cost, capacity, range, fuel efficiency, and safety) can
provide a critical edge to maintaining US competitiveness and improving the
affordability of aviation. Without investment in these technologies, the US
risks losing the long-term leadership required to maintain a competitive
Ensure Environmental Compatibility of Aviation: Remarkable strides have
been made in reducing the diverse impacts of aircraft on the environment.
Noise and harmful emissions have been diminished with the introduction of new
and derivative aircraft. Continued research and technology development is
required so that more can be done. We must continue research to increase
energy efficiency while decreasing noxious and ozone-depleting chemicals. The
US must maintain leadership in these technologies to ensure the environmental
compatibility of aviation and long-term competitiveness.
Space 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
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
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.
THE FUTURE OF SPACE LAUNCH RESEARCH
In a recent NASA study six US aerospace firms assessed the benefits that
could emerge as a result of lower-cost access to space. Their conclusion is
consistent with the Administration's new space transportation policy:
"The future space transportation system selected must be responsive to
commercial user requirements in addition to those of government users. While
low operating cost is fundamental, other parameters, such as launch
dependability, higher reliability, very short booking time, and user
friendliness, are of equal importance... Unless the next space transportation
system satisfies these needs, that system will not be widely used
The Administration's policy assigns the chief agencies (NASA and the
Department of Defense) a unique lead role, reflecting its particular
capabilities and resources. The DOD will be the lead agency for modernizing
and evolving current expendable launch vehicle systems. NASA will lead
technology development and demonstration of next-generation reusable launch
systems, such as the single-stage-to-orbit concept.
Research 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 program objectives of space transportation are:
To modernize and evolve our current expendable launch vehicle fleet,
taking prudent cost-effective measures to improve performance, reduce costs
and increase reliability to support national needs. As the lead agency, DOD
will factor in the needs of the commercial space launch industry, with a view
towards keeping America competitive in the global launch services market.
To push the cutting edge of technology, focusing on the development and
demonstration of a next generation reusable system. As lead agency, NASA will
work towards a decision in late-1996 on whether to proceed with a sub-scale
flight test to prove the concept of single-stage-to-orbit. The goal of this
effort is to support a decision by the end of the decade on the development of
an operational next generation reusable launch system.
Challenges and New Opportunities
Reduce Costs and Improve Performance: It is critical that the Federal
government promote the reduction in the cost of current space transportation
systems while improving their reliability, operability, responsiveness, and
safety by improving and evolving expendable space launch vehicles and
promoting co-development with industry of a reusable launch system.
Foster Competitiveness: Achieving the vision of a more viable, competitive
US launch industry will require improvements to infrastructure and to the
current launch fleet, and development of new launch systems by DOD and NASA,
with support from the private sector. The Government will foster the
international competitiveness of the US commercial space transportation
industry, actively considering commercial needs and factoring them into
decisions on improvements in launch facilities and vehicles.
Personal (Light-Duty) Motor Vehicles
One 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
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.
APPLICATIONS OF PERSONAL MOTOR VEHICLE RESEARCH
Americans' reliance on the automobile has had challenging consequences
for the environment: high petroleum consumption, poor air quality, and the
possibility of global warming. In the next decade increases in vehicle-miles
traveled and in the sheer number of cars will hamper efforts to abate urban
air pollution and reduce our reliance on foreign oil. The focus of efforts to
reduce these adverse impacts is the development of advanced technologies
leading to cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars.
Accordingly, in 1993 the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles
(PNGV) was announced. The PNGV aims to protect the environment and strengthen
US competitiveness by developing technologies for vehicles three times more
fuel-efficient than today's. In the PNGV, Government and industry engineering
teams will perform research to develop an automobile that is dramatically more
efficient and yet safe and affordable. Research efforts will be concentrated
in two areas: component technologies to improve fuel efficiency and reduce
emissions; and manufacturing technologies that reduce the time and cost
associated with design and mass-production. This effort will ensure that US
automakers lead the world in automotive technology.
The 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.
The following are the major program objectives of personal motor vehicle
Develop a vehicle that will deliver up to three times the fuel efficiency,
reduce the emissions of motor vehicles, without compromising other features
such as performance, safety, room, and utility.
Develop and introduce manufacturing technologies and practices that will
reduce the time and cost associated with designing and mass producing this new
Challenges and New Opportunities
Achievement 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:
Advance Automotive Technologies: It is critical that the US government
continue to utilize its base of mission-oriented R&D in generic technology
areas that apply to automotive technologies. These include propulsion
systems, materials, system integration, vehicle configurations, alternative
fuels, utilization, operations, and fuel distribution and infrastructure.
Improve Productivity: Research is necessary to improve the productivity of
the US manufacturing base by significantly advancing US manufacturing
technology, including the adoption of agile, flexible manufacturing and the
reduction of cost and lead times, while reducing the environmental impact and
Enhance Efficiency: Research must be pursued that leads to improvements in
the fuel efficiency and emissions of standard vehicle designs. research
should focus on technologies that reduce the demand for energy from the engine
and the drive train.
Medium and Heavy Duty Motor Vehicles (Trucks and Buses)
Medium 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
APPLICATIONS OF BUS RESEARCH
Diesel engine emissions are a target for improvement in all cities with
heavy downtown traffic, but the situation is especially acute in Los Angeles.
In order to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions from buses, the FTA
is sponsoring the Los Angeles mass transit agency to develop an advanced city
bus that will be more accessible for disabled passengers, will utilize light
weight materials (for the improvement of fuel efficiency and the reduction of
damage to the city streets, and will be powered by an hybrid propulsion
system. An efficient, low-floor bus has the potential for increasing sales of
buses manufactured in the US in the world marketplace.
ARPA and DOE are also pursuing bus vehicle improvements, generally with
the cost shared by industry, to develop advanced structures, electric
propulsion, diesel propulsion, hybrid systems, and enabling technologies. The
objective is to enable transportation to take maximum advantage of advanced
technologies developed throughout the US
It 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
Improve and regain the US position in the world truck and bus market.
Assure that advanced truck and bus technologies consider accessibility,
energy efficiency, and environmental impacts.
Challenges and New Opportunities
Improve Truck and Bus Technology for Improved Performance, Safety, Energy
and Environmental Characteristics: Research is needed to develop improved
materials, components, and design concepts for transit buses and trucks,
including advanced diesel technology, alternative fuels, fuel cells, and
electric propulsion. A key challenge for R&D is to reduce truck and bus
vehicle emissions sufficiently to meet year 2000 EPA requirements.
Attract Riders to Public Transportation: Applications of technology
innovations to transit buses will offer significant advances in attracting
riders, improving service, efficiency and performance, providing access to
disabled users, and reducing environmental impacts. The scale and
implications of these improvements in urban transportation warrant high
priority for Federal R&D.