Self-driving cars and smart cities model promising future in Ohio

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The state of Ohio joins California, Michigan and others as a state that has specifically crafted legislation to address self-driving cars.

$45 million of state grants has been allocated to the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, the largest independently-owned automotive testing ground.

Ohio Governor John Kasich announced the grants last Thursday with support from the Ohio Department of Transportation and Ohio State University, which partners with the Transportation Research Center.

The grants are designed to create new methods of testing autonomous vehicles and specifically the communication between them. One feature of the expanded park will be a large high-speed intersection for testing traffic management without stoplights.

The Transportation Research Center is also noteworthy as the only federal testing ground for vehicles and is expected to be used for autonomous vehicle testing by the government.

This grant, which focuses on autonomous vehicles, pairs with funding to the city of Columbus, in part by a Google project but also from Ohio and the federal government, to develop technologies that better enables cities to prepare for new technology infrastructure.

Columbus was awarded a grant last June as part of the Department of Transportation’s “Smart Cities” initiative, which aims to create new ways for citizens in cities to interact with the environment around them. Internet-connected public transportation will help make the city run more efficiently as well as communicate with riders.

Wifi-enabled kiosks will help get all citizens online. And infrastructure will be updated to enable self-driving cars to function more smoothly than human drivers.

This all plays into Ohio positioning itself to modernize cities, many of which suffered from a decline in manufacturing felt by much of the midwest over the last few decades.

Self-driving cars will be best enabled to work well in cities that have been redesigned to fit them, and Ohio will soon be able to test all ends of that spectrum, from the cars themselves at the Transportation Research Center to the cities of the future being led by Columbus.

 

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