COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Governor John R. Kasich recently signed an executive order to authorize autonomous vehicle testing in Ohio.
“Ohio is well positioned to lead in developing the cars of the future, and just as Wright Brothers did at Huffman Prairie, our great state stands ready to once again launch a new era in transportation,” said Kasich. “We have the diversity in weather and terrain that are essential to advancing these new technologies. The sooner these vehicles are safely fine-tuned, the sooner they can make a significant reduction in the 40,000 traffic deaths we have in this country every year.”
Autonomous vehicles are essentially driverless vehicles. They combine a variety of techniques to perceive their surroundings and can navigate without human input. Several vehicle and tech companies have invested in the technology in recent years, including Apple, Mercedes, Google and Uber.
The executive order authorizes researchers to test on Ohio roadways as long as their vehicles meet certain safety requirements and are capable of complying with Ohio traffic regulations. The order also requests that they register their vehicles with Drive Ohio, an effort by Kasich’s administration to be the state’s new center for smart mobility and autonomous driving.
According to Kasich, each car must have a designated operator who is an employee of the company performing the tests as well as a valid driver’s license. Designated operators will be required to monitor the vehicles at all times and report any accidents that occur.
The executive order also created a voluntary Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program to assist local governments in working with automotive and technology companies to advance technologies in their communities. Municipalities will have the opportunity to work with DriveOhio and create an inventory of testing locations that offer a variety of traffic and terrain scenarios.
According to Kasich, Ohio is investing in infrastructure upgrades that will allow devices on roads and traffic-control signals to send critical travel and weather information to drivers. The administration alleges that the infrastructure will also help improve emergency response times and will allow traffic managers to better manage congestion.