Autonomous Vehicles: Coming to a Road Near You (If They're Not There Already)

Across the nation, states are passing autonomous vehicle legislation and in some cases these vehicles are already roaming the roads. Here’s a look at where autonomous vehicles are and where they’re going.

by / July/August 2018
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Across the nation, 10 sites were selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation as proving grounds to advance AV technology:

1. Contra Costa Transportation Authority GoMentum Station

Location: Concord, Calif., outside of San Francisco
Features: Located on the site of a former naval weapons station, GoMentum offers 5,000 acres of varied terrain (the largest secure test site in the world) with 20 miles of paved roadway focused on the testing of connected and autonomous vehicle technology.

2. San Diego Association of Governments

Location: San Diego, Calif.
Features: Three separate environments make up this site: the express lanes on Interstate 15, city streets in Chula Vista, Calif., and part of the South Bay Expressway. These diverse sites offer real-world conditions for AVs and CVs and their associated technology.

3. Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership

Location: Various sites, including the Texas A&M University System (11 locations); the University of Texas at Austin; and Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. 
Features: The vast network of partners taps into existing transit testing facilities, many of which have been engaged in AV projects for several years. Other partners include the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, medical centers, ports and high-speed corridors.

4. Iowa City Area Development Group

Location: Iowa City, Iowa
Features: Home to the National Advanced Driving Simulator at the University of Iowa, this site offers both on-road and closed-course testing, as well as simulated transportation environments. AVs can test in different kinds of weather and on a variety of road surfaces.

5. University of Wisconsin-Madison

Location: Madison, Wis.
Features: With a variety of testing environments, the Wisconsin AV Proving Grounds is working on best practices for AV use in commercial trucking, addressing data security issues, advancing options to upgrade non-AVs with autonomous capabilities and overcoming perception problems in the way of widespread adoption, to name a few.

6. American Center for Mobility at Willow Run

Location: Between Ypsilanti and Belleville, Mich.
Features: The recently opened 500-acre proving ground started tests last December, taking advantage of infrastructure like double overpasses, intersections, roundabouts, a curved tunnel and a 2.5-mile loop of highway.

7. Pittsburgh and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute

Location: Pittsburgh and the campus of Penn State University, University Park, Pa. 
Features: In addition to a 1-mile oval-shaped test track, there’s an area for large vehicles and a course meant to test durability of cars and accessories.

8. U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center

Location: Outside of Aberdeen, Md.
Features: Established more than a century ago, the proving ground opened six months after the U.S. entered into World War I. Its designation as an AV test site suggests the facility will play a pivotal role in exploring how autonomous technologies can enhance U.S. military operations. 

9. North Carolina Turnpike Authority

Location: North Carolina’s Triangle Expressway, about 20 miles west of Raleigh
Features: Ready access to several nearby research universities, a trait shared by many other test sites, as well as 19 miles of fiber optics that enable electronic tolling, live feeds and pavement sensors, should shed light on changes needed to road signs and markings for AVs.

10. Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners

Location: Locations throughout central Florida, including several universities, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the city of Orlando, expressways, interstates and a dedicated high-speed AV and tolling test center in Polk County.
Features: Driver-Assisted Truck Platooning will be tested on nearly 150 miles of State Route 91 from Orlando to Palm Beach, while the SunTrax facility will occupy 475 acres, 200 of which will be dedicated to testing emerging AV-related tech. 

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