Funds granted for automated driving project on I-70

(Posted June 15, 2020)

Ohio has won another U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) grant focused on automated driving technology.

The Federal Highway Administration has awarded $4.4 million to a team led by DriveOhio for their I-70 Truck Automation Corridor project. DriveOhio is an initiative of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) focused on automated and connected transportation technologies.

“Thanks to the leadership of the DeWine-Husted administration, Ohio continues to lead the nation in the deployment of automated driving technology,” said Jack Marchbanks, ODOT director. “Once again, collaboration was the key to success.”

The project team includes state DOTs, technology providers, and representatives from the freight industry.

“This federal grant will help further facilitate the partnerships between the Ohio Department of Transportation, DriveOhio, and the Indiana Department of Transportation to leverage innovative autonomous driving technology,” said U.S. Senator Rob Portman. “I’m pleased to see this federal investment in our region and look forward to seeing how this partnership strengthens the reliability of autonomous driving and promotes further economic development in Ohio.”

The project is a collaboration between ODOT, DriveOhio, the Indiana Department of Transportation, and the Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC). The focus is a stretch of I-70 between Columbus and Indianapolis. With partners contributing $4.5 million in matching funds, the total investment in Ohio for this project will be $8.9 million.

“We have something special here in Ohio,” said Patrick Smith, interim executive director at DriveOhio. “As self-driving technology matures, it is important that everyone has a seat at the table. With the coalition of public, private and research institutions that we have built, we’re confident this project will provide valuable insights to USDOT and industry as we develop smart logistics policies, procedures and technology standards that will be shared across the nation.”

The project will provide freight companies and truck automation vendors an opportunity to deploy partially automated driving technology in daily “revenue service” operations. To ensure the safe deployment of these technologies on public roads, TRC will offer professional driver training for host fleets and perform an automation audit of I-70. The data TRC collects will provide DOT partners insights to ensure their roadways are ready for partially automated vehicles.

During public road testing, a professional driver will be at the wheel should human intervention be needed. The data gathered will be shared with USDOT to inform the development of policies and procedures to scale across the United States.

“Connected and autonomous driving technology is revolutionizing how we move people and products across our country,” said Joe McGuinness, Indiana Department of Transportation commissioner.

Ohio and Indiana have millions of transportation industry-related jobs, are within a one-day’s drive to 60 percent of the U.S. and Canadian population, and have experienced substantial freight growth within and through the states. The data gained from this four-year project will support technological innovation in this sector of our regional economy.

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