Your March 30 Pre-Trip: Delivery drone concerns abound

Here are five things worth knowing today:

1. According to MIT’s Technology Review, delivery by drone may be legal within two years, but there are kinks to work out. Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate Transportation Committee drafted a bill paving the way for regulation of delivery drones within two years, but critics have raised concerns. According to the Review, many are concerned that drones carrying valuable cargo could be shot down or stolen. Plus, many questions regarding reliability, autonomy and coordination with other aircraft have surfaced. MIT Technology Review has more.

2. California’s Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced that it is looking into solar energy usage in transportation infrastructure. Caltrans said it will explore SolaRoad, a Dutch technology that implements the use of solar panels in roadway projects. The idea behind the technology is that sunlight falling on the road surface is converted into electricity by concrete panels with solar cells and a translucent top layer of tempered glass. According to Caltrans, the generated electricity can be used for street lighting, traffic systems, electric vehicles and households.

3. The Federal Trade Commission filed to sue Volkswagen for fraudulent advertising as a result of the diesel engine emissions scandal that came to light six months ago. The commission said it is seeking "permanent injunctive relief, rescission, restitution, the refund of monies paid, disgorgement of ill-gotten monies, and other equitable relief," according to the lawsuit, after "consumers suffered billions of dollars in injury." In response, Sierra Club California Director Kathryn Phillips released the following statement: "With their fake ‘clean diesel’ campaign, Volkswagen not only put profits before the health of our families and our planet, but through deceitful marketing, ripped off mindful consumers who thought they were purchasing cleaner vehicles. Greenwashing is never okay, but when it puts the health and safety of our families at risk, there must be consequences. The Federal Trade Commission is right for filing this lawsuit."

4. During a visit to his hometown Charlotte, NC, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx warned policymakers not to repeat the mistakes of the past. According to a Charlotte Observer report, Foxx explained that there are areas across the country where infrastructure is supposed to connect people, but instead blocks them off from potential employment, schools, retail and more. In those places, he said, freeways sliced into residential areas, causing property values to plummet and residents to flee to other neighborhoods. The Observer has more.

5. Rhode Island’s Department of Transportation said it is finalizing plans to renumber all of the state’s highway exit signs to comply with new federal regulations. According to a WPRI Eyewitness News report, back in 2009, the Federal Highway Administration updated its Manual on Uniform traffic Control Devices, which includes an update that says states could no longer use sequential exit numbers and instead needed to use a numbering system based on distance or mileage.

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