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Self-Driving Truck Puts Ohio at the Forefront of Innovative Transportation Technology

Ohio’s assets make it an ideal location for autonomous vehicle technology

Thu Jan 12 2017

Whether it is moving people or goods, transportation is in the midst of an exciting transformation. The concept of self-driving vehicles, once considered a futuristic, Jetson-like idea, is now quickly becoming a reality in Ohio, thanks to new investments to support innovative transportation technology.

Otto, a Silicon Valley startup bought by Uber, recently chose Ohio to test one of its revolutionary self-driving trucks on Route 33, a four-lane road in Central Ohio that is an important proving ground for autonomous vehicle research.

On Nov. 30, the truck traveled along the 35 miles of highway between Dublin and East Liberty, a stretch of road dubbed the Smart Mobility Corridor. The state is investing $15 million to install additional fiber-optic cable networks and other sensor systems along this corridor. Once the installation is complete in the summer, this section of U.S. Route 33 will provide a site where new technologies can be safely tested in real-life traffic situations. One of the nation’s most advanced automotive testing facilities, Transportation Research Center (TRC), provides a 4,500-acre proving ground to test automobile safety, energy economy and performance. TRC is located right along U.S. Route 33 in East Liberty, offering ideal access for original equipment manufacturers to take advantage of controlled open road testing.

“You want to test when it rains, you want to test when it snows, you want to test when it’s slippery. You have all of the ideal conditions, so in many respects, we’re ahead of everybody when it comes to the ability to develop and test [autonomous vehicles] in a real way,” said Gov. John Kasich.

Speaking at the November event, Gov. Kasich confirmed Ohio’s commitment to autonomous vehicle research and talked about Ohio’s competitive edge in this emerging technology. The state’s central location, world-class research capabilities, strong auto industry ties and four-season climate make it the ideal location to advance autonomous vehicle technology.

These outstanding assets, along with more than 300 companies working to advance sensor technology, helped the city of Columbus “Smart Columbus” vision win the U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City Challenge. The $40 million federal grant and significant third-party co-investment means “Smart Columbus” will become the country’s first city to fully integrate innovative transportation technologies.

To learn more about Ohio’s role in autonomous vehicle technology, contact a senior member of the JobsOhio Automotive industry team at 1.614.300.1389.

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