ARPA-I: new vision for U.S. transportation infrastructure

Innovation at the intersection of high-risk, high-reward technologies and America’s infrastructure goals

Meet the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Infrastructure (ARPA-I). This new agency, nestled within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), is charged with a mission to revolutionize America’s transportation infrastructure systems. Tasked with the development of high-risk, high-reward next-generation technologies, ARPA-I aims to drive the United States to a leadership position in advanced transportation infrastructure technologies.

The high-risk, high-reward model

ARPA-I takes cues from the successful innovation model of DARPA and ARPA-E. This involves an emphasis on high-risk, high-reward projects, steering America’s transportation systems into the future. The goal? To maintain America’s position as a global leader in the sector, offering a bold approach to transportation infrastructure.

Reimagining infrastructure: efficiency, safety, and resilience

ARPA-I is set on transforming our infrastructure into a system that is efficient, safe, secure, and resilient, while also aiming for net-zero emissions. This bold vision involves investments in advanced and emerging materials, structures, and systems that could fundamentally transform our transportation infrastructure.

Lowering the costs of infrastructure development

One of ARPA-I’s key objectives is to lower the long-term costs of infrastructure development. This includes the costs of planning, construction, and maintenance. By developing innovative science and technology solutions, ARPA-I plans to make infrastructure development more affordable and efficient.

Greenhouse gases: ARPA-I’s commitment to lowering emissions

Reducing the environmental impact of our transportation infrastructure is another critical goal. ARPA-I is committed to cutting down the lifecycle impacts of transportation infrastructure on the environment, including greenhouse gas emissions. This focus aligns with global efforts to combat climate change.

Towards net-zero: aligning transportation with environmental goals

ARPA-I is central to the Biden-Harris Administration’s Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative. By funding and encouraging innovations in transportation, ARPA-I is poised to contribute significantly to the country’s goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Beyond electrification: smart mobility

Smart mobility is one of the key areas where ARPA-I’s research and development could focus. This field extends beyond electrification, encompassing connected and autonomous vehicles, vehicle to infrastructure connectivity, IT-enabled transit systems, micromobility systems, and technologies enhancing accessibility and equitable mobility.

Technology for accessibility and inclusion

As part of ARPA-I’s mission to improve the movement of goods and people, an R&D focus on smart mobility could increase access to public transportation in underserved communities. By investing in technologies like transit on-demand and dynamic routing, ARPA-I aims to foster an environment of equitable mobility.

Combating threats: enhancing resilience against physical and cyber threats

Building a transportation infrastructure that’s resilient to physical and cyber threats is a critical goal of ARPA-I. Whether it’s through repurposing and sharing transportation rights-of-way to facilitate new energy infrastructure or developing intelligent control systems for electricity distribution systems, ARPA-I is on the frontlines of promoting infrastructure resilience.

Leading the way: U.S. and advanced infrastructure technologies

Finally, ARPA-I is committed to ensuring that the United States remains a global leader in developing and deploying advanced infrastructure technologies. This includes advancements in sustainable fuels, materials, and various other transportation related technological innovations.

Defining the transportation needs of the future

ARPA-I’s mandate is not merely to prepare for the transportation needs of the future but to define them. By embracing the high-risk, high-reward model of technological innovation, ARPA-I represents a new chapter in U.S. transportation infrastructure – one that promises to deliver solutions that are not just state-of-the-art, but revolutionary.


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