The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded a US$7.5m Automated Driving Systems Demonstration Grant to an Ohio-based team of industry, academia and community partners that will develop and deploy self-driving transport solutions focused on the state’s rural roads and highways.
DriveOhio, an initiative of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), focused on automated and connected transportation technologies and the independent Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC) will lead a team of partners that include The Ohio State University, Ohio University, and the University of Cincinnati. The four-year program will test the safe integration of automated driving systems onto the country’s roadways and look at the potential economic impacts of this technology. With partners contributing US$10.3m in matching funds, the total investment in Ohio for the project will be US$17.8m.
The project’s testing of automated driving systems will be conducted in all seasons, day and night, as well as on both paved and unpaved roads. Some testing will also occur during periods of limited visibility and in work zones. A driver will be behind the wheel at all times should human intervention be needed. In regions where on-road testing is to take place under ‘real-world’ conditions, local officials take part in pre-planning and community meetings will be held in advance to inform the public. These deployments will be coordinated by academic partners and led by the TRC.
“This is a huge win for the state of Ohio. By focusing on 32 counties in Ohio’s rural Appalachian region, studies supported by this grant will be the most comprehensive effort yet to be conducted on our nation’s rural roads,” said Jack Marchbanks, director of ODOT. “Although 97% of the nation is rural, and more than half of all US traffic fatalities occur on rural roads, most of this testing to date in other states has been conducted in urban areas. The lessons we learn in Ohio can have enormous benefits for our own state and nationwide as we work to make our transportation system safer.”
TRC’s president and CEO, Brett Roubinek, said, “We are working every day with innovators to test and improve new technologies that increase highway safety, reduce traffic congestion and make the nation’s transportation system more efficient. This grant will help maintain Ohio’s leadership in advancing these technologies and help the federal government safely implement automated driving systems across the nation.”