AP NEWS

Transportation Department ends policy that would have left Ohio out of automated vehicle testing program

October 8, 2018

Transportation Department ends policy that would have left Ohio out of automated vehicle testing program

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Transportation has changed an old policy that prevented an Ohio facility from getting federal grants to test automated vehicle technologies.

Last week, the transportation department released a new automated vehicle policy that rescinded the Obama administration’s designation of 10 “Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds” around the country that were authorized to get testing grants from the federal government. A federal spending bill had set aside $20 million in research grants for facilities with the designation.

The new policy released by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will no longer grant preference to the 10 facilities, because it recognizes “that given the rapid increase in automated vehicle testing activities in many locations, there is no need for U.S. DOT to favor particular locations or to pick winners and losers.”

“Therefore, the Department no longer recognizes the designations of 10 Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds announced on January 19, 2017,” the new policy says.

A bipartisan group of Ohio Congress members sought the change after the 4,500-acre Transportation Research Center in East Liberty was left off the list of preferred facilities released on the last day of Obama’s presidency. 

The legislators signed a letter spearheaded by Champaign County GOP Rep. Jim Jordan that urged Chao to reconsider the decision. The letter mentioned that Chao had told a House Appropriations subcommittee that “the site selection was not fair and seemed not to have been based on any discernible criteria. 

“Given the unfairness of the site selection and the need to create the most effective framework for testing autonomous vehicles, the department might be better served by eliminating this arbitrary constraint and basing its decisions on solid criteria,” the letter said.

Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman released a statement that applauded Chao’s decision.

“Secretary Chao and the Department of Transportation should be able to determine its partners for testing this new technology based on merit, not favoritism, and I commend them for leveling the playing field with this announcement,” said Portman’s statement. “TRC’s decades of vehicle testing and wealth of relevant expertise are second-to-none, and the Department of Transportation should be able to partner with them if they choose.”

AP RADIO
Update hourly