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Ohio Driving The Conversation About Autonomous Vehicles

Even two years ago, self-driving leader Otto was testing trucks on U.S. 33, one of Ohio's main test corridors between Dublin and Marysville.
Courtesy of Ohio Department of Transportation
Even two years ago, self-driving leader Otto was testing trucks on U.S. 33, one of Ohio's main test corridors between Dublin and Marysville.

Ohio continues to give the green light to businesses that want to help pioneer the development of self-driving vehicles. Just last week at a COSI conference, Lt. Governor Jon Husted was wooing Toyota, Waymo, Ford, the American Trucking Associations, AAA and others.

Husted assured those in attendance Ohio has the infrastructure, the workforce and the research. He told  WVXU just after his speech, "These are the kinds of things that allow Ohio to be attractive to these automobile companies that are doing the research; to have university and educational partners in doing it and the infrastructure that's necessary."

Drive Ohio is the Ohio Department of Transportation's one-stop shop for automated and connected vehicles in the state. Spokesman Luke Stedke says Ohio wants to be driving the conversation on autonomous vehicles. "The phrasing we use at Drive Ohio is to come here to test and stay here to grow."

The agency recently landed a $7.5 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant to test self-driving vehicles in rural Ohio. In 18 months, Drive Ohio and the University of Cincinnati, Ohio State, Ohio University and the Transportation Research Center hope to have vehicles in Vinton and Athens counties.

State government promises to its part to fund other efforts through the transportation budget. Lt. Gov. Husted told potential investors Ohio can turn on a dime. "If they want to have clearance to do some testing on highways, we have to have a nimble regulatory process to allow them to do that. If they need talent, we have to have training programs that are available."

Ohio continues to test autonomous vehicles on U.S. 33 between Dublin and Marysville. Greater Cincinnati partners are talking about self-driving shuttles and told WVXU last year they were trying to identify a test track.

Stedke wants to assure Ohioans that any research being done is to make the roadways safer.

"Our portfolio of projects continue to grow and we're excited for the possibility that this technology has to make Ohioans safer on the roadways," he says.

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With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.