U.S. DOT awards 3 states AV research funds

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Representatives from Ohio, Michigan and Virginia announced this week that each of the states received funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to advance research and testing of autonomous vehicle technology.

Ohio and Michigan said they received $7.5 million in grant funding from the department. Virginia representatives said the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute received $15 million.

The U.S. DOT said its Automated Driving Systems Demonstration Grants were set up with as much as $60 million available to test integration of automated driving systems.

The department has not yet announced all grant recipients and did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

DriveOhio, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s unit focused on new mobility initiatives, and the Transportation Research Center Inc., an independent automotive testing center in Ohio, will deploy automated transportation products focused on the state’s rural roads and highways with the grant, an announcement Tuesday said.

The project will involve other Ohio mobility partners, including Ohio State University, Ohio University and the University of Cincinnati, the state said. Other partners are contributing $10.3 million in matching funds to the project, the state said. The announcement said Ohio’s project was one of more than 70 competing for federal funding.

Ohio added to its automated and connected driving testing by opening the SMARTCenter in July, a $45 million operation at the Transportation Research Center.

Michigan’s grant will fund partnered efforts with the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan, the University of Michigan and the American Center for Mobility on automated driving systems, according to an announcement Thursday.

Michigan will use the funding to research, develop and test self-driving technologies at the University of Michigan’s Mcity testing center, the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti and in Detroit.

Several other partners under the Michigan Mobility Collaborative were involved in the application, including the Michigan Department of Transportation, the cities of Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, Wayne State University, Deloitte and Ford Motor Co.’s City:One crowdsourcing program.

The Michigan Mobility Collaborative will develop a process to evaluate the safety of automated driving systems “from simulation to test tracks to real world testing on Detroit streets,” according to the announcement. The city has been a key player for several organizations pursuing investments in mobility over the last year.

Ford has invested several million dollars in Detroit as it works toward establishing its $740 million autonomous and electric vehicle campus in city’s Corktown area. The automaker has also launched City:One in Detroit to address mobility challenges.

The Detroit mayor’s Office of Mobility Innovation and other city initiatives to support AVs and new mobility services have included shared and micromobility opportunities through partnerships with Lyft and several e-scooter providers.

Virginia representatives said Virginia Tech’s funding is split between two projects. One will demonstrate scenarios related to interaction of vehicles with automated driving systems in a corridor “optimized for vehicle automation” and the other will develop concepts related to trucks with automated driving systems.

“With new technologies, and particularly with automated driving systems, it’s important to get safety right the first time,” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said in a statement Wednesday.

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