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US DOT makes more awards of autonomous vehicle research funding

19 September 2019 IHS Markit Automotive Expert


The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded funding to eight projects in seven states to accelerate research and testing of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, reports Automotive News. The US DOT has set up an Automated Driving Systems Demonstration Grants fund, with USD60 million available to test integration of automated driving systems. Earlier this month, the US states of Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia received a total of USD30 million in grants from the DOT. Now, four other states have been added to the list of those receiving funding, comprising California, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The University of Iowa and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station both received just over USD7 million to test automated driving systems to connect rural communities that lack transportation options. The Contra Costa Transportation Authority in California received USD7.5 million to develop shared AVs to provide first-mile and last-mile access to public transit for the elderly. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation received more than USD8.4 million of grant funding to study the integration of AVs into work zones using connectivity and high-definition mapping technologies.

Significance: The DOT is the government department that also oversees regulatory agency the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is responsible for developing and enforcing vehicle safety standards. Development of autonomous vehicles and systems is expected to require both public and private investment, as demonstrated by the DOT funding. The DOT has begun a public consultation exercise on requests from both General Motors (GM) and Nuro for regulatory exemption to produce vehicles without a steering wheel or pedals. Last year, the DOT issued updated guidelines on AVs and automated driving systems. The guidance document is called 'Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0', or 'AV 3.0'.

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