Driverless cars coming to Virginia: McAuliffe announces development initiative

virginia-newGovernor Terry McAuliffe announced on Tuesday a new effort to make Virginia a leader in researching and developing automated-vehicle technology. The Virginia Department of Transportation and the Department of Motor Vehicles have entered into a new partnership with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, Transurban and HERE—Nokia’s mapping business—to create the Virginia Automated Corridors. The new initiative will streamline the use of Virginia roads and state-of-the-art test facilities for automated-vehicle testing, certification, and migration towards deployment.

“Automatic-vehicles are the future, and our Commonwealth’s long history in military and private automated and unmanned systems has poised Virginia to lead the way,” said Governor McAuliffe. “As we work to build a new Virginia economy, we have a tremendous opportunity to provide car companies and suppliers of automated vehicles the ideal, real-world environments they need to test complex scenarios prior to putting their vehicles on more roadways.”

The Virginia Automated Corridors will offer automated-vehicle developers  the opportunity to test their technologies on Virginia roads covering more than 70 miles of interstates and arterials in the Northern Virginia region, including Interstates 66, 495, and 95, as well as state routes 29 and 50. The corridors also include two test-track environments—the Virginia Smart Road, located on-site at the transportation institute, and the Virginia International Raceway.

“The Virginia Automated Corridors partnership demonstrates Virginia’s strong commitment to innovative technologies and our desire to collaborate with developers and suppliers as they create, test, and deploy new systems that will ease congestion and create jobs,” said Karen Jackson, Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth.

The Virginia Automated Corridors integrate multiple resources, including:

  • Access to dedicated high-occupancy toll lanes managed by Transurban along Interstates 495 and 95.
  • High-definition mapping capabilities, real-time traffic and incidents, intelligent routing, and location cloud technology supported by HERE, which has worked with major automakers on previous automated-vehicle projects.
  • Pavement markings maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation for completeness and retro-reflectivity.
  • Accurate localization via high-precision global navigation satellite systems.
  • Connected-vehicle capabilities enabled by dedicated short-range communications and cellular technology; access to sophisticated, unobtrusive data acquisition systems.
  • And operations at higher speeds along a test track that features complex curves.

“Virginia has always been at the forefront of implementing new transportation solutions, and we are committed to providing an environment in which industry leaders from the automated-vehicle realm can work to answer the needs of drivers,” said Aubrey Layne, Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth.

“The next generation of vehicle technology—from connected to automated vehicles—holds great potential to enhance the transportation system,” said Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. “With support from Virginia and in coordination with partners who are pioneers in their respective areas, we will work with the automated-vehicle industry to ensure that the deployment of such systems is beneficial to all users.”

Automated-vehicle stakeholders testing in Virginia are not required to obtain a bond. Licensing and insurance will be provided through the Commonwealth. The transportation institute will facilitate Institutional Review Board approval and certification for safe human research involvement. For more information about the Virginia Automated Corridors,

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