A public/private autonomous driving institute blooms under the Arizona sun

Stepping up with a public, private, and academic collaboration to advance autonomous driving, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced the Institute for Automated Mobility (IAM). Ducey named Intel the first private-sector founding partner of the new institute.

“The Institute for Automated Mobility will bring together global industry leaders, a public sector team, and the brightest minds in academia, focused on advancing all aspects of automated vehicle science, safety, and policy,” Ducey said. “Arizona is committed to providing the leadership and knowledge necessary to integrate these technologies into the world’s transportation systems.”

Administered by the Arizona Commerce Authority, the group’s members, including the Arizona Department Transportation, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Arizona State University (ASU), the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University, will work with Intel to advance automated driving technologies and safety standards. Other companies and organizations interested in joining the collaboration can contact IAM.

“Automated vehicle technologies have incredible potential to improve transportation safety and efficiency, saving lives, time and money,” said Arizona Commerce Authority president and CEO Sandra Watson. “IAM will conduct groundbreaking industry-led research and development supporting the establishment of uniform standards and smart policy around these technologies.”

The IAM’s scope includes liability, regulatory, and safety aspects of self-driving vehicles. The goal is to develop autonomous mobility standards and best practices for industry adoption and state-of-the-art facilities for that purpose.

Institute members are already at work creating plans for a simulation lab, and technology-neutral infrastructure with a 2.1-mile test track with multiple route configurations including intersections, signage, and traffic signals. The Arizona Department of Transportation and the Department of Safety will incorporate first responder emergency services and law enforcement in the facility, a first in the U.S. according to the Commerce Authority.

Arizona’s focus on automated vehicle technology extends back to 2015 when Ducey issued an executive order supporting self-driving technology and formed the Self-Driving Oversight Committee. The following year, Intel formed its Automated Driving Division in Arizona, while Google launched Waymo in Chandler, Ford ran self-driving vehicle trials, Uber relocated its autonomous fleet, and GM’s Cruise unit moved its testing to the state.

In 2017, Waymo named Arizona its global testing location and Intel named Arizona as a testing location and began collaborating with ASU. That same year, Intel’s Mobileye division introduced the Responsibility, Sensitivity, and Safety (RSS) model.

“The Institute for Automated Mobility is the culmination of many months of groundbreaking collaboration between Intel, ASU, and public agencies in Arizona,” said Intel senior vice president Doug Davis. “We look forward to working with industry partners, the state, and the universities on safety technologies, standards, and policies — such as responsibility sensitive safety (RSS) — as we collectively aim for autonomous transportation solutions that are safe and impactful.”

Earlier this year when a self-driving Uber car in autonomous mode fatally struck pedestrian Elaine Herzberg, Arizona’s focus on autonomous transportation came to the forefront. Following that tragedy, Intel published a blog post calling for collaborative discussions by automakers, tech companies, regulators, and other groups to focus on self-driving vehicle safety.

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