All About Richland

Behind The Wheel: Will Mansfield Join Other Ohio Cities In Embracing Driverless Cars?

28 Nov , 2018  

The State of Ohio has announced an expansion of the Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program, created earlier this year by Governor Kasich. That program links private industry with cities interested in serving as testing sites for autonomous and connected vehicle technology.

While Mansfield has not been publicized as expressing an interest, Athens, Columbus, Dublin, and Marysville have signed agreements with DriveOhio, the state’s center for smart mobility, to test autonomous and connected vehicles along with other smart mobility infrastructure. The City of Springboro is close to finalizing an agreement. Several other cities, including Dayton, Youngstown and Cleveland, have also expressed interest in participating in the program.

“Companies that create technologies for autonomous and connected vehicles want to test their innovations in real-world environments and Ohio offers the best variety of conditions and locations for that,” said Jim Barna, executive director of DriveOhio. “Our Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program connects these companies with communities that want to serve as test beds.”

When municipalities participate in the program, DriveOhio provides assistance in several areas.

  • It helps communities determine specific locations to promote, such as neighborhoods that have particular needs (e.g. first mile/last mile issues) or regions designated as specific districts (e.g. entertainment or commercial).
  • It helps municipalities figure out what attributes they have that would be particularly attractive to researchers and testers, such as geography, population density, unique weather patterns the availability of a connected vehicle infrastructure.
  • It helps communities educate their local law enforcement about autonomous and connected vehicles.
  • It promotes the partnerships to companies and other organizations that partner with DriveOhio.

Dublin became the latest city to join the program. The Columbus suburb plans to equip about 1,200 vehicles with onboard units that can communicate with dedicated short-range communications devices installed in roads, traffic lights and other types of infrastructure. The data will be used to alert drivers, law enforcement and traffic managers about road and traffic conditions.

“Self-driving cars are going to reshape our transportation system, and we want to be ready for it,” said Dublin City Manager Dana McDaniel. “The best way to prepare for an autonomous future is to begin integrating these technologies into our vehicles and infrastructure. Participating in the pilot program will make it easier for us to do that.”

The program gives companies involved in smart mobility yet another reason to locate in Ohio. The state already has an unparalleled combination of assets – from its collaborative environment and well-maintained infrastructure to its four-seasons climate and exceptional research and test facilities – that make it an ideal location for researching, testing and deploying autonomous and connected vehicles.

In addition, Gov. Kasich signed an executive order last January creating DriveOhio as a one-stop shop for researchers, developers and manufacturers to collaborate on autonomous and connected vehicle initiatives.

“Maintaining a leadership role nationally and globally as a premier testing ground is in the state’s best interest,” Barna said. “It promotes economic development and brings the jobs of the future to Ohio. At the same time, it makes our roads safer and gives people more mobility options.”

Source: DriveOhio; Photo: Creative Commons License

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