WANADA CEO discusses autonomous vehicles in Fairfax County

WANADA CEO John O’Donnell brought the auto dealer perspective to a panel in Merrifield, Va., earlier this month on the future of autonomous vehicles (AVs) in the Washington region and around the world. The discussion was put on by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and the Intelligent Transportation Society of Virginia. ITS Virginia is a coalition of small businesses and government officials studying how to use cutting-edge transportation technologies to develop more effective infrastructure and urban planning.


Automakers and dealers are leading the way in promoting AV technology to help move people around more efficiently, O’Donnell told the panel, moderated by WTOP reporter Max Smith. This technology, O’Donnell said, is of particular importance in areas like Fairfax County, which have rapidly shifted from suburban and exurban to having many densely populated areas that more closely mirror Washington, DC, and areas close to the region’s urban core.


AV technology will only be as effective as governments at all levels want it to be, O’Donnell said. Global buy-in is critical. MobilityTalks International, the Washington Auto Show’s industry seminar that precedes the consumer show every year, has positioned itself as an industry forum for transportation leaders from around the world to discuss AV issues. A variety of panels covers best practices for smart growth policies that harness the huge progress that AVs have undergone in the past decade.

O’Donnell appeared on the Virginia panel with Michelle Chaka, program director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute; Nick Zabriskie, a public policy manager for Uber, and Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust. In the audience were officials from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Virginia Department of Transportation, numerous Northern Virginia government officials, and representatives from other state, local and national transportation stakeholders.

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