Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ohio Turnpike to Test Driverless Cars

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ohio Turnpike to Test Driverless Cars

Article excerpt

Head east from Toledo on the Ohio Turnpike a year from now and you may be sharing the road with automated cars and trucks.

Not necessarily driverless, the Ohio Turnpike's executive director explained Friday, but with someone in the driver's seat whose role is primarily to make sure the vehicle's guidance system is working properly.

Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission officials - in conjunction with several other state agencies - plan to begin testing of such vehicles on the toll road across northern Ohio within the next 12 months.

Executive Director Randy Cole said vehicle automation is likely to be an important technology in the future, and thus it's important for Ohio and the Midwest to be leaders in its development.

"We think the turnpike is the right opportunity for both passenger [vehicle] testing and some of the latest freight technologies as well," he said.

Such testing "can be safely done with normal traffic" on the turnpike, Mr. Cole said, and the toll road has several distinctive features lacking on other Ohio highways that will support it.

Among them is the turnpike's practice of painting its lane stripes six inches wide, instead of the standard four, and repainting them annually, which makes it easier for the vehicles' roadway sensors to keep them in the proper lane.

The turnpike's pavement maintenance and aggressive debris removal also will be beneficial, Mr. Cole added.

"They [researchers] don't want potholes or changes in the road condition," he said.

Parking lots built at major interchanges for coupling and uncoupling tandem-trailer trucks can be used for staging test vehicles and equipment, and the turnpike's service plazas will enable refueling without using other roads.

Turnpike officials are also working on the means to provide live traffic and work-zone information to the transportation department's OHGO traffic-monitoring system - data to which vehicular guidance systems also would have direct access. …

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