Ohio Demonstrates Leadership in the Future of Autonomous Mobility

Ohio’s partnerships and infrastructure set the state up to be at the forefront in the pursuit of smart mobility and advanced air mobility.
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The aerospace and automotive sectors are experiencing rapid changes that drive new innovation in advanced mobility. Ohio has a reputation as a leader in both industries and plans to stay at the forefront of mobility as the world discovers new and better ways to move goods and people. 

Ohio is the Future of Mobility

In October 2020, U.S. Representative, Troy Balderson (R-Ohio), introduced the Strengthening Methods to Advance Research and Technology in Transportation Act (SMART).

The legislation would spur innovation, improve efficiency, and promote advanced technology in America’s transportation systems.

“In Central Ohio, we’re proud of our history as a national leader in smart mobility and advanced transportation research,” said Balderson, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “I’ve seen firsthand the state-of-the-art research and work being done in this community that will improve road safety and create more efficient transit options throughout Ohio. I’m excited to continue working with our local transportation thought leaders like DriveOhio and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) to continue these efforts.”

The advanced mobility technology that is being tested and deployed in the state of Ohio will mature and scale across the United States. Ohio is leading the development of systems that will change the way people live, which includes the following:

  • Establishing a collaborative framework for deploying technology-based transportation solutions.
  • Developing smart mobility interoperability standards.
  • Furthering advanced automated and connected vehicle technology on the ground (smart mobility) and in the air (Advanced Air Mobility).

Helping smart and advanced mobility entities create this future, JobsOhio offers the JobsOhio Research and Development (R&D) Center Grant, which can be used to create corporate R&D centers in Ohio. These centers can focus on the development and commercialization of emerging technologies and products, including those related to advanced and autonomous mobility.

As Ohio leads the development of the transportation system of the 21st century, our communities will see increased investment from mobility companies. This investment will positively impact Ohio’s economy. Citizens will see increased safety, efficient travel, and positive job growth—these outcomes are the definition of public value. Deploying these solutions will increase the quality of life for citizens, and as these technology companies test in Ohio, we believe they will stay here to grow.

Ohio’s Mobility Entities 

Over the last five years, the state of Ohio invested in the research and deployment of innovative technologies that enable autonomous vehicles on the ground and in the air.

DriveOhio and FlyOhio are unique entities that bring together public, private, and institutional partners to establish a one-stop shop focused on smart mobility technology, both on the ground and in the air. The DriveOhio model is unique—housed within Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and connected to a network of local, state, and federal assets—this distinct approach to smart mobility has been recognized by industry insiders and federal regulators as the “secret sauce” for Ohio’s smart mobility success. As the single point of contact for all of Ohio’s smart mobility initiatives and advancements, DriveOhio offers faster access to resources by breaking down barriers and improving efficiencies for people and organizations that want to be part of this industry.

FlyOhio, an initiative spearheaded by the Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center and DriveOhio, seek to coordinate ongoing UAS research throughout the state. FlyOhio also aims to identify and pursue research opportunities to make Ohio airspace among the first in the nation ready to fly beyond line of sight.

This coordinated work has matured into a design, test, and deploy ecosystem that supports companies as well as local, state, and federal partners to utilize the extensive advanced mobility resources found in Ohio. This “come here to test, stay here to grow” approach to advanced mobility is built on strong partnerships from across the state and sends the message that Ohio is open for business!

Ohio Builds a Mobility Infrastructure

Ohio is actively pursuing advancements in Urban Air Mobility (UAM). According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), UAM “envisions a safe and efficient aviation transportation system that will use highly automated aircraft that will operate and transport passengers or cargo at lower altitudes within urban and suburban areas.”

Ohio has the infrastructure in place now to support package and passenger delivery in urban centers. While other states are in the early stages of setting up the infrastructure for advanced mobility and acquiring permission for testing, Ohio already has both.

Industry leaders, academic partners, community leaders, and legislative officials are engaged to plan, develop, and deploy electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) technology. This new mode of transportation for package and passenger delivery includes vertipads, which are landing pads for pick-up and drop-off for piloted and unpiloted vehicles flying in urban centers. Ohio has identified the highly traveled I-75/I-71 corridors as infrastructure that supports both intrastate and interstate commerce.

Ohio’s mobility infrastructure also consists of institutions and partners throughout the state who contribute to the development of smart traffic management:

  • The city of Marysville in conjunction with the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor (a 35-mile highway corridor dedicated to advanced mobility) upgraded all 27 traffic signals in the city, equipping them with dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) radios to be used as roadside units aimed at delivering signal phase, timing date, and other safety messages to vehicles that have been outfitted with on-board units.
  • The Transportation Research Center’s new 540-acre SMART Center (Smart Mobility Advanced Research and Test) is a state-of-the-art hub for automated and autonomous testing within the nation’s largest independent automotive proving grounds. The SMART Center is designed to test innovative technologies and highly automated vehicles in a closed, safe, and repeatable real-world environment before the vehicles are deployed on public roads and highways.
  • SkyVision is the low altitude air traffic management mobile unit that supports unmanned vehicle flights. The FAA certified SkyVision for Ohio to safely manage piloted and unpiloted vehicle traffic in the national air space. SkyVision uses FAA radar feeds to provide complete situational awareness of air traffic.

In late 2019, Ohio became one of seven states to receive U.S. Department of Transportation funding to test the safe integration of automated driving systems (ADS) on our nation’s roadways. The $7.5 million in funding went toward the ODOT/DriveOhio Automated Driving System Demonstration Grant, which focuses on rural environments, cooperative automation, and robust data collection to enable development of effective and informed ADS policies.

Building on its heritage in the aviation and automotive industries, and with an aggressive push toward adopting smart mobility and Advanced Air Mobility innovation, Ohio is the best state to design, test, and deploy these technologies—starting now.

Come here to test, stay here to grow.