Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed an executive order to establish the state’s first office for connected and autonomous vehicles.
Kasich issued the order Jan. 18 to create DriveOhio, a hub where vehicle manufacturers, auto part companies, academic researchers, transportation officials and other stakeholders can collaborate on the development and deployment of new vehicle technologies.
“Just as the Wright Brothers gave birth to flight here in Ohio, we are positioning the state to lead on developing the vehicles, highways and smart transportation technologies of the future,” Kasich said in a statement. “Our goal is to make Ohio the premier destination for researchers, developers and manufacturers to test, build and deploy advanced mobility solutions that will make our roads safer and less congested.”
The order requires that, initially, DriveOhio will be headquartered at the Ohio Department of Transportation, and an advisory board of transportation experts will be formed to guide the center’s efforts. The board’s members will represent the tech, automotive, academic, telecommunications and insurance industries and also include the director of the state’s Department of Transportation.
The governor has reportedly met with Japanese automaker Subaru and would like to use this initiative as a way to entice large companies like Subaru to invest in the state.
The program has already started two initiatives. The first was the release of a request for proposals last week calling for a statewide system to manage and analyze new data gathered by connected and autonomous vehicles. The state will also soon begin equipping its vehicle fleet with devices that can capture data and further support connected vehicle research.
The program follows on several of Kasich’s other autonomous vehicle initiatives, which include the state’s Smart Mobility Corridor, a 35-mile stretch of U.S. Route 33 designed as a test bed for new vehicle technologies, like the self-driving freight trucks being tested by Otto, Uber’s autonomous trucking division. The state is also supporting the Transportation Research Center, a 540-acre testing facility that received a $45 million from state government and Ohio State University in early 2017.