DOT Designates 10 Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds

Bidding farewell to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx last week, the agency announced the selections to encourage testing of new technologies.

The U.S. Department of Transportation last week selected 10 proving ground pilot sites to encourage testing and information sharing concerning automated vehicle technologies, with the agency saying the sites will develop "innovations that can safely transform personal and commercial mobility, expand capacity, and open new doors to disadvantaged people and communities."

"The designated proving grounds will collectively form a Community of Practice around safe testing and deployment," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who left his post with the arrival of the new Trump administration. "This group will openly share best practices for the safe conduct of testing and operations as they are developed, enabling the participants and the general public to learn at a faster rate and accelerating the pace of safe deployment."

DOT also said the sites will also provide insight into optimal big data usage through automated vehicle testing.

More than 60 applications were considered from academic institutions, state DOTs, cities, and private entities and partnerships. The 10 selected sites are:

  • City of Pittsburgh and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute
  • Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership
  • U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center
  • American Center for Mobility at Willow Run, Mich.
  • Contra Costa Transportation Authority & GoMentum Station
  • San Diego Association of Governments
  • Iowa City Area Development Group
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners
  • North Carolina Turnpike Authority

DOT asked for proposals via a Federal Register notice in November 2016 that set out criteria for selections, including a demonstration of capable safety planning, willingness and ability to share and disseminate information, and an ability to show that all applicable laws, regulations, and policies are adhered to at all times. For more information about the selections, visit www.transportation.gov/AV.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder highlighted the Willow Run facility's promise during his 2017 State of the State speech on Jan. 17, again saying he expects the state's population to reach 10 million people by the end of 2020 and that, by continuing to invest in infrastructure, students, communities, and the mobility industry, the state can soon be recognized as the most desirable place to live in the country.

He said the American Center for Mobility, established at the former Willow Run bomber plant in Ypsilanti, will be America's leading non-profit testing and product development facility once construction is completed later this year. It will invite technology and vehicle companies from all over the world to test there. Snyder said Michigan is leading the way in making cars smarter, making them safer, and creating new freedoms for people who are currently unable to operate a vehicle due to physical restrictions, and the possibilities for developing new technology are endless.

The American Center for Mobility is a joint initiative among the State of Michigan, the University of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan, and Ann Arbor SPARK.

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