smart carLone Star State urban centers, towns and diminishing wide, open country is likely to see a lot more in the way of automated vehicles (AV) in this and coming years. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) announced it had designated Texas an Automated Vehicle Proving Ground for the testing of connected cars and AVs.

Piggybacking off its national Smart City Challenge, DOT received more than 60 applications for designation as a national AV Proving Ground.

DOT’s selection of Texas as one of the nine federal AV Proving Grounds was based on an application made jointly by 32 municipal and regional partners and four in-state research organizations – the Texas Dept. of Transportation (TxDOT);Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI); the Univ. of Texas, Austin Center for Transportation Research (CTR) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).

“With five of the nation’s 15 fastest-growing cities in Texas and our population expected to potentially double by the year 2050, Texas must be a leader in new technology that addresses transportation challenges,” TxDOT Deputy Executive Director Marc Williams explained in a news release. “This partnership puts Texas at the forefront of automated vehicle technologies that likely will shape the future of transportation around the world.”

Automated Vehicle Proving Ground
National AV Proving Ground partners will carry out a wide range of connected and AV R&D and testing. The resulting data and information will be collected, organized, analyzed using Big Data analytics, and shared and exchanged among program partners. DOT and state AV Proving Grounds expect the program and process will be instrumental in establishing industry guidelines and best practices that will lead eventually to commercialization and widespread adoption of connected and automated vehicles.

“Texas offers a full and varied range of testing environments, from high-speed barrier-separated managed lanes to low-speed urban environments such as university campuses, medical districts, transit bus corridors and border crossings,” CTR elaborates on behalf of the Texas AV Proving Ground partnership in the press release. That encompasses both closed-course facilities and real-world urban and freight test sites.

Texas AV Proving Ground partners are devoting a variety of resources of resources to the nationwide DOT program, employing an iterative “pilot-learn-scale” model of deployment to carry out R&D, pilot tests and follow-on project development, CTR explained.

The ultimate goal of the public-private collaboration, according to CTR’s press release, “is to offer services that connect people to places of opportunity.”

To that end, the Texas A&M University System’s RELLIS Campus and Proving Grounds; the Univ. of Texas, Austin campus and SwRI campus in San Antonio are included among Texas AV Proving Ground’s assets. In addition, urban and freight test bed sites in the Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio areas will provide program partners to explore various scenarios in real-world testing environments, CTR points out.

Image courtesy of flickr user James.

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