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U.S. Department of Transportation designates 10 automated vehicle “proving grounds” to encourage testing of new technologies


January 23, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter


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The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced that it has designated 10 “proving ground” pilot sites to encourage testing and information sharing related to automated vehicle technologies.self driving electronic computer car on road

Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the designations last week before Donald Trump became the president of the United States on Jan. 20. The DOT said in a statement that these designations will “foster innovations that can safely transform personal and commercial mobility, expand capacity, and open new doors to disadvantaged people and communities. These designations are a logical next step in the Department’s effort to advance the safe deployment of automated technology.”

Foxx said that the proving ground will collectively form a “community of practice” around safe testing and deployment. This group will openly share best practices for the safe conduct of testing and operations as they are developed, enabling the participants and the general public to learn at a faster rate and accelerating the pace of safe deployment, Foxx said in the statement.

The proving grounds will also provide critical insights into optimal big data usage through automated vehicle testing and will serve as a foundation for building a community of practice around automated vehicle research.

The DOT reported that designees were selected from a competitive group of over 60 applicants, including academic institutions, state departments of transportation, cities and private entities and partnerships. “Proving grounds designees all have different facilities that can be used to gauge safety, manage various roadways and conditions, and handle various types of vehicles,” the department reported.

Related: U.S. government previews rules of the road for self-driving cars

The designees include:

  1. City of Pittsburgh and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute;
  2. Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership;
  3. U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center (Maryland);
  4. American Center for Mobility at Willow Run (Michigan);
  5. Contra Costa Transportation Authority & GoMentum Station (California);
  6. San Diego Association of Governments;
  7. Iowa City Area Development Group;
  8. University of Wisconsin-Madison;
  9. Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners; and
  10. North Carolina Turnpike Authority.

In November 2016, the DOT submitted a Federal Register Notice soliciting proposals for a pilot program to designate automated vehicle proving grounds. The solicitation included broad criteria for selections, including a demonstration of capable safety planning, willingness and ability to share and disseminate information and an ability to show that all applicable laws, regulations, and policies are adhered to at all times, the statement said. The solicitation also requested information on the types of facilities and research capability that are available to applicants to test automated vehicle technologies.