Before the change of administration and his farewell blog post, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) designated 10 proving ground pilot sites to encourage testing and information sharing around automated vehicle technologies. These proving ground designations will foster innovations that can safely transform personal and commercial mobility, expand capacity, and open new doors to disadvantaged people and communities. These designations are a logical next step in the Department’s effort to advance the safe deployment of automated technology.
The Proving Ground designees are:
- City of Pittsburgh and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute
- Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership
- U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center
- American Center for Mobility (ACM) at Willow Run
- Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) & GoMentum Station
- San Diego Association of Governments
- Iowa City Area Development Group
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners
- North Carolina Turnpike Authority
“The designated proving grounds will collectively form a Community of Practice around safe testing and deployment,” said Secretary Foxx. “This group will openly share best practices for the safe conduct of testing and operations as they are developed, enabling the participants and the general public to learn at a faster rate and accelerating the pace of safe deployment.”
The proving grounds will also provide critical insights into optimal big data usage through automated vehicle testing and will serve as a foundation for building a community of practice around automated vehicle research.
Designees were selected from a competitive group of over 60 applicants. Applicants included academic institutions, state Departments of Transportation, cities, and private entities and partnerships. Proving grounds designees all have different facilities that can be used to gauge safety, manage various roadways and conditions, and handle various types of vehicles.
DOT initiated a Federal Register Notice soliciting proposals for a pilot program to designate automated vehicle proving grounds in November 2016. The solicitation included broad criteria for selections including a demonstration of capable safety planning, willingness and ability to share and disseminate information, and an ability to show that all applicable laws, regulations, and policies are adhered to at all times. The solicitation also requested information on the types of facilities and research capability that are available to applicants to test automated vehicle technologies.