The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has released a Solicitation of Proposals for the ‘Designation of Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds Pilot’, which aims to form a network of testing facilities for autonomous vehicles.
Through the new program, USDOT will designate facilities as qualified proving grounds for the safe testing, demonstration, and deployment of automated vehicle technology. The program will allow the agency to achieve national goals, while understanding the long-term societal and ethical impacts that the technological advances may impose. To further its understanding, USDOT is requesting proposals from applicants to form an initial network of multiple proving grounds focused on the advancement of automated vehicle technology.
These entities will be designated as ‘Community of Practice’, in order for them to develop and share best practices around the safe testing, demonstration, and deployment of automated vehicle technology. Proposals must be submitted by December 19, 2016, and the initial proving grounds will be selected during the Q1 2017.
The department anticipates that the designation of a facility as an official ‘USDOT Automated Vehicle Proving Ground’ will encourage new levels of public safety, while contributing to a strong innovative foundation, able to transform personal and commercial mobility and open new doors to disadvantaged people and communities. Facilities will not be limited to a predetermined size, number or variety of domains and capabilities. Eligible entities for the program will include: test tracks or testing facilities; race tracks; cities or urban cores; highway corridors; and campuses, both corporate and academic.
The program was initially announced by the US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who said, “Safety is our top priority at USDOT, and over the past year we have leaned in on ushering in these innovations that will transform transportation as we know it. Through efforts such as our Smart City Challenge, and the first of its kind Federal Automated Vehicle Policy released in September, and now the Automated Vehicle Proving Ground Pilot Program, we are setting a new foundation for this technology to be safely leveraged and implemented into the coming decades.
“Additionally, we recently announced the creation of an Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation that is assembling experts to help us assess new transportation technologies. Our hope is that by designating Automation Proving Grounds, we will be able to build on that safety effort, while taking advantage of these advanced technologies in a responsible way. I encourage all entities that are eligible to submit a proposal.”