Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, has been selected as one of 12 international leaders in the transportation world to gather in Wilmington, Delaware, for the Oct. 17 TEDxWilmingtonSalon event, “Who’s in the Driver’s Seat? The Transformation of Transportation.”

AAA Mid-Atlantic is sponsoring the event, which is perhaps the first TEDxSalon in the world dedicated exclusively to exploring transportation, according to AAA. Dingus will speak about the future of transportation, particularly automated-vehicle systems and the reality of deploying such technology on the roadways.

“Automated and autonomous vehicles are emerging at a rapid pace, with advocates talking about widespread deployment in just a handful of years,” he said. “While it’s understandable to get caught up in this excitement — and while we know automated vehicles have great potential to enhance driver safety, reduce congestion, and improve mobility if designed robustly and reliably — history tells us that widespread deployment may not happen as quickly as we think.”

Dingus, who is also an endowed professor of engineering at Virginia Tech and president of VTT LLC, has managed the operations and research at the transportation institute for nearly two decades. In collaboration with institute engineers and researchers, he helped pioneer the naturalistic driving study research method, which involves instrumenting vehicles with unobtrusive video cameras and sophisticated instrumentation to assess real-world driver behavior and performance.

The institute is using the naturalistic research method to assess both the design of and human interactions with advanced vehicles, including automated vehicles. Researchers recently completed a joint study with Ford to assess signals that enable autonomous vehicles to communicate with such transportation users as pedestrians and bicyclists.

“We received speaker applications from dozens of the leading voices in the transportation industry, research, and technology,” said Ajit Mathew George, organizer and executive producer of TEDxWilmington. “I am excited about the ideas that will be explored by the engineers, innovators, CEOs, experts, and government officials we have invited to speak on October 17.”

“These talks are intended to stimulate thinking about rapidly developing transportation technology and how these advancements are — and will be — affecting consumers in the near and longer term. It will be a practical and realistic look at the evolution of transportation and its implications for our vehicles, our infrastructure, and our lives,” said Cathy Rossi, vice president of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Dingus has more than 220 technical publications and has managed more than $330 million in research funding to date. In 2013, he was named a White House Champion of Change. He is a Fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, from which he has received several awards, including the A.R. Lauer Award for outstanding contributions to the field of safety. He is also a member of the boards of directors of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.

Information about the TEDxWilmington Salon event, including access to a livestream, can be found at

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