Governor John Kasich of Ohio will kick off autonomous truck testing on public roads with an announcement scheduled today. Uber’s recently purchased self-driving truck maker, Otto, will run a big rig on two different routes in the Buckeye state, according to CBS News.
In October an Otto truck made a one-time delivery of a trailer load of Anheuser-Busch beer. The truck, with a driver on board for monitoring and safety, drove the suds 120 miles in the first commercial shipment by a self-driving truck. The Ohio testing, however, will be an ongoing exercise in testing and research of autonomous vehicles.
Governor Kasich wants Ohio to be at the forefront of self-driving testing. According to Ohio officials, the state’s seasonal weather changes, which provide a range of driving conditions, as well as the state’s automotive companies and partnerships with universities, all argue in favor of Ohio being a logical center for autonomous vehicle research.
The truck from Otto will travel two routes, only one of which has been made public to date. A 35-mile section of U.S. Route 33 between Dublin and East Liberty will be one route. Route 33 is a four-lane, divided highway and the truck will travel in normal traffic. A human driver will be on board as a precaution to take over if needed. East Liberty is also the location of an independent testing facility, Transportation Research Center.
The second Otto test route will be on an as-yet-unidentified part of the Ohio Turnpike, according to Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Bruning. The busy turnpike is a 241-mile major route between Chicago and the East Coast. The plans to begin testing on the Ohio Turnpike were announced in August.
During Monday’s announcement, which will precede the first Otto trip, Governor Kasich will speak about autonomous vehicle testing and research in the state and also provide details about a fiber-optic cable network and sensor systems that are to be installed on state roads beginning in 2017.
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