Autonomous Illinois initiative aims put the state at the forefront of CAV testing and research


Governor Bruce Rauner has issued an executive order directing the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to launch a new statewide, multiagency initiative to develop a testing program for connected and automated vehicles (CAVs).

CAVs are predicted to generate an estimated US$800bn annually in economic benefits across the USA by 2050, which includes the creation of jobs, increased productivity for motorists, and fuel savings. They are also expected to help reduce the number of crashes that result in more than 1,000 deaths in Illinois, 94% of which are caused by human error, and a negative economic impact to the state of US$14bn a year, according to the most recent data.

Rauner’s Autonomous Illinois initiative will see a partnership between the state and private industry to help promote the safety, and economic opportunities offered to Illinois, with IDOT operating a program aimed at advancing the state to the forefront in research on these emerging safety technologies. As part of the governor’s executive order, IDOT will oversee a CAV testing program that requires a driver to remain behind the wheel, capable of taking control of the vehicle at all times.

Autonomous Illinois will connect communities interested in CAV testing with industry, universities, research institutions and other technology partners. IDOT and other state agencies, including the Illinois State Police, Illinois Tollway, Department of Insurance, and Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, will assist with the program.

Autonomous Illinois will work with private industry as well to determine infrastructure, data and support needs to further CAV testing and implementation in Illinois.

In five to 10 years, the Autonomous Illinois initiative aims to accomplish the following goals:

• Passenger and commercial vehicles with various degrees of automated capabilities travel safely throughout the state, alongside non-automated vehicles;

• Companies proactively come to Illinois to develop, test and bring their products to market because of the state’s world-class CAV ecosystem;

• Goods travel efficiently and safely through Illinois, maintaining the state’s economic advantage as the hub of the North American freight network;

• The state operates and delivers services effectively and efficiently with the use of CAV technology;

• CAVs travel into and out of Illinois seamlessly because of regulation and coordination at federal, state and local levels of government;

• Needs are anticipated, and technical training and curriculums are developed to prepare a changing workforce.

“As the transportation hub for the entire country, Illinois is ideally situated to be a leader in the research of connected and automated vehicles,” said Rauner. “This technology is here, and Illinois is ready to embrace it. Working with our public and private partners, we can make our roads safer, save lives, attract investment, and create new high-tech jobs throughout the state.”

IDOT secretary Randy Blankenhorn commented, “We want testing to happen here in Illinois, but we want to do it safely. Thanks to the governor’s leadership, we can bring our state’s impressive resources together to build a system of transportation that moves people and goods in new ways and puts us at the forefront of innovation.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.