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Apple SVP Lisa Jackson named as member of new US DOT automated vehicle committee

In an effort to unify and regulate the introduction of automated vehicles to U.S. highways, the Department of Transportation has established a new advisory committee to steer the future of the department, including Apple Vice President Lisa Jackson.

According to the Department of Transportation, the main focus of the new group is the "development and deployment of automated vehicles, and determining the needs of the Department as it continues with its relevant research, policy, and regulations."

The committee is loaded with existing automotive industry figures, and assorted government officials. Besides Apple Vice President Lisa Jackson holding a seat, other luminaries from silicon valley include an aviation attorney from Amazon, Lyft co-founder John Zimmer, Waymo CEO John Krafcik, and Hyperloop One Senior Vice President Henry Claypool.

Besides just autonomous car legislation, the group will also have sway over future policies including trains, planes, freight, and drone systems.

Jackson is no stranger to the U.S. government. Jackson previously served as the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2009 to 2013. Jackson joined Apple In May 2013 as the company's environmental director, and was promoted in 2015 to the company's Vice President of environment, policy, and social initiatives.

Apple's interest in transit automation likely springs from "Project Titan," the company's rumored car project. At one point, the project was reportedly staffed by more than 1,000 engineers and other personnel working out of top secret labs in Sunnyvale, Calif., some of whom were pulled from other consumer product teams.

"Project Titan" may have run into trouble last September when sources said top executives expressed displeasure with the group's slow progress. Subsequent reports indicated the team faced mounting unforeseen obstacles that ultimately culminated in the axing of dozens of employees.

According to the most recent rumblings, Apple has pivoted away from a full-fledged self-driving car platform and is now focusing on the development of autonomous vehicle software and supporting hardware. Apple's driverless product, if it ever materializes, might intersect with the company's augmented reality initiative. In October, reports claimed Apple is currently testing AR-based navigation and other autonomous vehicle solutions using virtual reality simulators.