Two area cities want to test driverless vehicles, technology


Two area cities want Ohio to test autonomous technology and self-driving vehicles on their streets.

As part of the DriveOhio program through Ohio’s Department of Transportation, both Springboro and Dayton are working on plans to pilot automated technology and infrastructure. Both cities’ discussions with the state have been months in the making, city managers said.

“On State Route 741 we have five school buildings that are situated on that one stretch of road, and so obviously traffic in the mornings and the afternoons when school is getting in and letting out is an issue,” Springboro city manager Chris Pozzuto said.

Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order in May designed to attract more autonomous-vehicle testing to the state, looking to keep up with California and Arizona where companies are making major investments.

Springboro’s primary goal is to add artificial intelligence at four major intersections to better control traffic. Those systems are expected to learn traffic patterns and help stop lights communicate to improve the flow of traffic, Pozzuto said.

»PHOTOS: Luxury condo with downtown view on market for $320K

After traffic management, Springboro is considering adding self-driving vehicles to connect its historic district to a new 6.5-acre redevelopment that will include a performing arts center and other businesses at the corner of state routes 73 and 741 .

“It would basically look like shuttling people back and forth between those two areas to almost make them one area, so that people feel free to…use autonomous vehicles to get up and down the streets to visit the different shops in the historic district but also visit the businesses and frequent the businesses that are going in that new redevelopment,” Pozzuto said.

While Dayton’s plans are in earlier stages, city manager Shelley Dickstein said the city wants to use the technology to improve transit services.

“We are looking at autonomous vehicles as a way to make thoughtful connections in areas of our city, so that’s really what the conversation is all about — how do we use transit, autonomous vehicles in transit, to help connect people to assets, to job sites, etc,” she said.

The city benefits from wide streets and thoroughfares, where autonomous vehicles could operate in designated lanes, Dickstein said, adding that it’s very likely Dayton will see autonomous vehicles in the next few years.

“We know that autonomous vehicles are coming,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. “We want to pilot autonomous vehicles so we can learn and not be behind on this new technology … As the heart of it all, this state needs to embrace the technology coming to keep our competitive advantage, particularly on logistics and transportation.”

»PHOTOS: Here’s what local Meijer stores looked like Thanksgiving morning

Beavercreek-based Prixarc, which develops sensors that make autonomous vehicles operate more efficiently, has been interested about working with Ohio since it made the announcement about the pilot program.

Prixarc vice president Vamsy Chodavarapu and his partner, both professors at the University of Dayton, have developed sensors that can replace GPS, which isn’t reliable for self-driving vehicles in forested areas or multi-level parking garages. Now that DriveOhio is debuting its first self-driving shuttles in Columbus in December, Prixarc plans to become an active partner, Chodavarapu said.

Dayton and Springboro are the most ideal locations for testing because of their proximity to his business, Chodavarapu said.

Several other cities are also looking to DriveOhio to be on the list of early integrators of the technology, which could attract younger workers and keep Ohio cities on the map as technology transforms towns to autonomous “smart cities.”

“It clearly is a component for the younger work force as part of an effort to retain brains and talent and to continue to grow talent in the city of Dayton,” Dickstein said. “The younger workforce is certainly early adopters of these technologies.”

It would also improve last- and first-mile transit to job sites, homes and other services, she said.

»PHOTOS: Former summer cottage of John Patterson on market for $785K

“The initial stages, it doesn’t cost the city anything. DriveOhio takes care of trying to find companies that are willing to come in and use their technology both on the traffic management side and the autonomous vehicles,” Pozzuto said. “Right now we don’t have any money appropriated for this and don’t anticipate any in the near future, so that’s what made the program look very attractive to us.”

But the biggest benefit of self-driving vehicles is safety, said ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning.

“You think about the fact that 94 percent of all crashes begin with human error. If you can reduce that percentage drastically, you can reduce the number of serious and fatal crashes. That’s what we really hope that does and we think this can really be a game changer for safety,” he said.

Though some area leaders voiced concern about the safety of autonomous vehicles when DriveOhio visited Dayton last month, Bruning said the test shuttles will have an operator who can intervene if needed.

Ohio is a prime location for testing because it experiences all four seasons, has varying geography from urban to farmland and is within 600 miles of about 60 percent of the United States and Canadian population, Bruning said.

FIVE FAST READS

How to protect yourself from cyber thieves this shopping season

5 ways new tech will change your holiday shopping experience this year

Store hours: Here’s when retailers will open for Thanksgiving, Black Friday sales

Here are major Black Friday deals you can get right now

Here are the best Black Friday deals in the Dayton area



Reader Comments


Next Up in News

Parents of murdered Auburn University student furious killer wants new trial
Parents of murdered Auburn University student furious killer wants new trial

The parents of a Georgia teenager murdered at Auburn University a decade ago are furious that the man convicted of killing her has asked for a new trial. >> Read more trending news  Lauren Burk, from Marietta in metro Atlanta, was a freshman at Auburn University and a graduate of Walton High School.  Investigators say Courtney L. Lockhart...
How to watch the spectacular Geminid meteor shower
How to watch the spectacular Geminid meteor shower

  The Geminid meteor shower is one of the most spectacular light shows of the year. >> Read more trending news  The Geminids are visible every December when the Earth passes through a massive trail of dusty debris from a rocky object named 3200 Phaethon, long thought to be an asteroid or an extinct comet. The particle debris burns up...
Operation Grinch Pinch: Texas police going after porch thieves with GPS trackers
Operation Grinch Pinch: Texas police going after porch thieves with GPS trackers

As more and more Americans turn to online shopping for everything from gifts to groceries, package theft from porches is a growing problem, especially during the holiday season. >> Read more trending news  One Texas police department is taking a different approach in trying to catch porch thieves. Operation Grinch Pinch is a partnership...
Tom Brady sets record for most overall touchdown passes in NFL
Tom Brady sets record for most overall touchdown passes in NFL

Another day, another record for Tom Brady's illustrious career as he set the record for the most overall touchdown passes in NFL history during the Patriots' loss to the Dolphins Sunday. >> Read more trending news  Brady's touchdown pass to Julian Edelman put him at 580 overall career touchdown passes, etching his name in history as the...
Traveler's good deed: Stranger gives first-class seat to Florida mom with baby
Traveler's good deed: Stranger gives first-class seat to Florida mom with baby

Kelsey Rae Zwick has been overwhelmed the past few years.  She and her husband have twin daughters, Lucy and Eva, who had complications at birth and were born at 29 weeks, Yahoo News reported. The infants spent their first few months in the neonatal intensive care unit, followed by months of treatments. Lucy and Eva suffer chronic lung disease...
More Stories