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  January 31st, 2017 | Written by

Texas Chosen as Testing Ground for Automated Vehicles

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  • Texas named a national Automated Vehicle Proving Ground.
  • Automated and connected vehicle technology is being developed to address congestion and safety.
  • Texas is at the forefront of automated vehicle technologies.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has named Texas a national Automated Vehicle (AV) Proving Ground for the testing of connected and automated vehicle technologies. The designation establishes Texas as a leader in the research and development of new transportation technologies that could make roads safer and less congested.

Texas’ booming population and economy make it an ideal test site for automated and connected vehicle technology. This technology is increasingly being developed and tailored to address congestion and increase safety, by reducing human error. It also offers opportunities to improve how people and goods move throughout their communities and the nation at large. Testing it, in different environments and uses, is an important step in assuring these technologies will be safe and reliable.

“With five of the nation’s 15 fastest-growing cities in Texas and our population expected to potentially double by the year 2050, Texas must be a leader in new technology that addresses transportation challenges,” said Texas Department of Transportation Deputy Executive Director Marc Williams. “This partnership puts Texas at the forefront of automated vehicle technologies that likely will shape the future of transportation around the world.”

Texas was one of 10 regions selected from an applicant pool of more than 60. Texas offers a unique statewide capability, starting with existing controlled environments on research campuses such as Texas A&M University, The University of Texas at Austin, and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) Campus in San Antonio. Texas’ additional testing environments are available in several municipal and regional areas, and include unique settings such as barrier-separated lanes, medical districts, transit bus corridors and border crossings. These varied and unique test sites will help the USDOT develop guidelines for automated vehicle technologies.

The rapid rate at which this technology is progressing will ultimately require a formal testing plan to be developed and approved by the appropriate state and local agencies, including the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Until then, initial testing will take place on closed research proving grounds.

TxDOT joins the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Transportation Research (CTR), Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and 32 municipal and regional partners to form the Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership.