Press Release

Carnegie Mellon University Researchers Conclude Human Operators Essential for Safe Transit Regardless of Rise in Automation

Statement from Amanda Ballantyne, director of the AFL-CIO Technology Institute, in response to a paper issued today by renowned policy leaders and researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and its Traffic21 Transportation Research Institute that concludes human operators remain essential to provide safe public transit amidst a wave of autonomous vehicle technologies.

“This is a vital contribution to the evolving debate around how or if autonomous vehicles should be deployed in public transit. More broadly, this type of research examining the complex questions around human-machine interaction in the development and eventual deployment of emerging technologies can lead to better outcomes for workers, users and customers.

“The AFL-CIO Technology Institute was founded in 2021 by the national AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions to advance a multi-faceted technology and innovation agenda. A major priority is to build new collaborations with research universities such as CMU that direct a more holistic approach to federally funded research and development.

“The goal behind the pursuit of worker-centered research initiatives with CMU and other institutions is to make unions durable partners, upstream in the R&D enterprise as an alternative to the current failed model of corporate-dominated research that too often leaves workers behind, fuels inequality and ignores important public interest questions.

“This report demonstrates what is human about delivering safe public transit to communities. It reaches powerful conclusions about the indispensable role of frontline transit operators in the face of emergent automated vehicle technologies.”

Contact: Ed Wytkind, 202-637-5018