(TNS) — The state of Ohio announced Tuesday it will start a $17.8 million project to boost work and research toward a self-driving vehicle network around the state – particularly in rural areas.
DriveOhio, the state’s autonomous vehicle program, will use the money on a four-year study of automated vehicle technology. The study will include taking self-driving cars (with a human driver present in each vehicle) on trips around rural areas such as Southeast Ohio, as well as research testing at the Transportation Research Center’s proving ground northwest of Columbus, according to Brett Roubinek, TRC’s president and CEO.
For example, the study will test the capabilities of self-driving vehicles in different seasons, road conditions, and times of day, according to a TRC news release.
The technology being studied ranges from emergency braking to protect drivers who aren’t paying attention to the road to fully automated vehicles that don’t have a steering wheel, Roubinek said. The results will be given to policymakers to develop appropriate policies for automated vehicles, he said.
“In the end, [the study] will accelerate the safe rollout of those technologies,” Roubinek said.
The project will be funded in part by a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which was awarded after lobbying by Ohio’s congressional delegation. The remaining $10.3 million was raised from various partners associated with the project, including ODOT, DriveOhio, the TRC, corporations, and academic institutions, according to Roubinek.
Federal and state officials from both parties praised the U.S. Department of Transportation for its $7.5 million grant, which was among 70 grants nationwide totaling $60 million.
“The award of this grant shows that Ohio continues to be at the center of this new transportation technology era,” said Republican Gov. Mike DeWine in a statement.
U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman said in a joint statement that the grant money is an investment in Ohio’s future and will help ensure the state’s transportation network remains a model for the rest of the country.
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