Transportation

Ohio Tries to Pull Ahead in Transportation Tech Race

On Jan. 18, Gov. John Kasich kicked off the DriveOhio initiative, which establishes a single point of contact for all things smart transportation in the state.

by Randy Ludlow, The Columbus Dispatch / January 19, 2018
Courtesy Ohio Department of Transportation

(TNS) — Even before he signed his executive order on Thursday, Gov. John Kasich was working auto industry executives in Detroit.

Come to Ohio, he told both American and foreign manufacturers in selling the state's new one-stop "DriveOhio" initiative to capture research and development of the high-tech future of transportation.

"DriveOhio," housed within the Department of Transportation, will offer manufacturers and researchers one point of contact to coordinate state agency assistance in developing driverless vehicles, "smart" roads and other technology.

"Just as the Wright Brothers gave birth to flight here in Ohio, we are positioning the state to lead on developing the vehicles, highways and smart transportation technologies of the future," Kasich said.

The state is creating "smart highways," such as a 35-mile stretch of Rt. 33 between Dublin and East Liberty, by installing fiber-optic cable and sensors to collect data and allow autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles to communicate with each other.

Ohio State University's Center for Automotive research and the Transportation Research Center along Rt. 33 also offer testing and research opportunities into "smart mobility."

While visiting the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Wednesday, Kasich played up Ohio's new high-tech offerings to executives of Ford, Chrysler, General Motors and other companies. He acknowledged Honda as a partner in Ohio efforts to make the state a smart transportation research center.

Kasich checked out an autonomous Google vehicle while in Detroit and again invited the tech giants executives to consider an investment in a plant and jobs in Ohio.

And, the governor acknowledged a meeting with executives of Japanese vehicle maker Subaru and "made a very strong pitch to them" about conducting research and development in Ohio. The state hopes to "lure a company like Subaru to make a big commitment to Ohio," Kasich said.

Ohio is positioning itself well as a smart-transportation center, but much work remains, Kasich said.

"One of the problems we have, we just to have to get our head above everyone else" and make sure foreign companies, such as in Asia, know what Ohio has to offer, the governor said.

"The ease of doing business here will matter. But it's a dogfight with a lot of states that realize the value in all of this," Kasich said.

An advisory board of leaders in the automotive and other business sectors will be formed to assist "DriveOhio" in tailoring its offerings.

The state also is seeking proposals from companies to develop a statewide technology and data network to put smart mobility information to use.

The Department of Transportation also will begin installing devices in some of its fleet of vehicles to track data to help develop connected-vehicle research.

©2018 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.