Ohio to develop smart mobility center, Kasich says

by admin January 20, 2018 at 11:35 pm

Ohio Gov. John Kasich posed for a photo Wednesday alongside Waymo CEO John Krafcik at the 2018 Detroit auto show in front of a self-driving Chrysler Pacifica.

Ohio is planning to develop a smart-mobility center to prioritize connected technologies and pave the way for autonomous vehicles in the state, according to an executive order signed by Gov. John Kasich on Thursday.

DriveOhio, an intersectional mobility project aiming to unite the public and private sectors, will “allow for a more rapid deployment of interoperable smart mobility technologies,” the state’s Department of Transportation said in a statement.

The bulk of the plan is meant to streamline transportation projects with intelligent components. Relying on federal regulations is too costly and time consuming, and the state is willing to invest in bringing together government, the industry and research partners.

The state has issued a $5 million request for proposals for a public-private partnership to make the center a reality, offering an estimated 18-month contract. Proposals must be submitted before Feb. 12 for the project launch sometime in late spring.

The center will coordinate with the state Transportation Department and several other agencies to ensure unified standards that “should dramatically reduce the amount of work that needs to be accomplished for many projects.”

“It’s one of the first initiatives for DriveOhio is to establish that enterprise architecture,” Jim Barna, the project’s executive director, told Automotive News. “We’re a state of a lot of cities, and for interoperability, we have to set the statewide architecture for all of our cities to adopt these technologies.”

A physical location for the center is pending, but will in the meantime be housed in the state transportation department facilities.

Projects include connected services to respond more efficiently to automotive accidents, and finding ways of leveraging developing technology to prevent them in the first place.

The center will part of the state Department of Transportation, acting as a partnership between the department and other governing bodies responsible for public safety and autonomous and connected tech legislation.

The center is also part of a bid to attract tech startups to the Buckeye State. Ohio has expressed interest in hosting autonomous vehicle testing facilities for companies such as Waymo, the self-driving Google affiliate.

Kasich posed for a photo Wednesday alongside Waymo CEO John Krafcik at the 2018 Detroit auto show in front of a self-driving Chrysler Pacifica. Waymo currently tests vehicles in California, Arizona, Texas, Washington state, Nevada and Michigan.

Testing in the Midwest exposes autonomous vehicles to snowy conditions, which offer a host of safety concerns difficult to simulate on the West Coast. The company announced plans to test in Michigan last October.

The first order of business: examine the existing mobility initiatives in the state.

The executive order says Ohio has invested more than $14 billion in transportation infrastructure changes in the past seven years, resulting in numerous projects across the state. In 2016, Columbus won the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, earning up to $140 million in awards and pledges to advance electric vehicle technology and mobility efforts.

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