When other states were slamming the door on autonomous-vehicle innovators with constricting regulations, Gov. Doug Ducey put out the welcome mat.
He signed legislation encouraging forward-thinking companies like Waymo, GM, Ford, Lyft and TuSimple to come to Arizona. Here, they could develop and test autonomous vehicles with the goal of reducing congestion and increasing accessibility and safety.
They came. Arizona today is a global leader in this field. In fact, the New York Times authored a story in 2017, describing Arizona as the place “where self-driving cars go to learn.”
Gov. Ducey is keeping the pedal to the metal.
In October, he signed an executive order creating the Institute for Automated Mobility (IAM). The public-private partnership will bring together the brightest minds in the field to conduct industry-leading research and development, aimed at creating uniform standards and policy for automated vehicle technology.
Transportation is on the cusp of an evolution as groundbreaking as the change from horse and buggy to the automobile. Automated vehicles have the potential to eliminate congestion and drastically reduce traffic accidents. This is research with a real-world impact.
Arizona is already a proving ground for the benefits self-driving cars will bring. The Institute for Automated Mobility will add structure to those efforts, with a partnership that can provide concierge-style services to help companies effectively execute R&D projects.
The Institute will include representatives from Intel Corp., other private industry organizations, the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. The idea is to engage partners in identifying research areas and defining projects, then directing those projects to teams of faculty across the universities.
The Institute’s partners will research potential solutions and create testing scenarios for automated vehicles, as well as create a Traffic Incident Management center and simulation lab with multiple route configurations, intersections, signage and traffic signs. The Institute also will integrate law enforcement and first responders with automated vehicles technologies in a way no other state is doing.
Intel’s role as a founding partner is key. The company has already created an open and transparent technology-neutral model for increasing the safety of autonomous vehicle decision making – what Intel calls “responsibility sensitive safety.” The Intel model will serve as the foundation of IAM research.
This initiative sets Arizona far ahead of any other state, underlining the Grand Canyon State’s reputation as a place where innovation happens because it is encouraged.
As Gov. Ducey put it directly: “Arizona is committed to providing the leadership and knowledge necessary to integrate these technologies into the world’s transportation systems.”