Last week, the Johnson County, Iowa, Board of Supervisors approved a proclamation encouraging autonomous vehicle testing as a public safety and economic development initiative.
The proclamation passed unanimously on a 5–0 vote.
“When you consider what’s already available, such as hands-free parking, this technology is utterly amazing,” said Janelle Retting, Johnson County Supervisor. “I’m excited that Johnson County can be on the forefront of testing, innovation, and safety, providing jobs and opportunities for our citizens.”
The Iowa City Area Development (ICAD) Group has made autonomous vehicle testing a priority since March and has already met with industry leaders at the Automated Vehicle Symposium in San Francisco last week.
According to Mark Nolte, ICAD Group President, autonomous vehicle testing technology needs two things to advance, real road time and simulated testing, and Eastern Iowa is the ideal spot. “We offer ready connection to the University of Iowa with its depth of research in Human Factors, Driving Simulation and V2V systems, as well as the National Advanced Driving Simulator,” said Nolte. “And now the public sector has stepped up to declare that our roads can be made available to advance public safety and gain more consumer adoption.”
ICAD Group continues to set meetings with companies and organizations from the Automated Vehicle Symposium and is working on establishing dates with local city councils for future proclamations.
The Johnson County proclamation reads as follows:
ENCOURAGING AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE TESTING AS A
PUBLIC SAFETY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE
WHEREAS, the next technological transformation that will profoundly affect our lives will be the introduction of passenger and freight automobiles operating with autonomous functionality. These vehicles have the potential to one day eliminate traffic fatalities caused by human error and distraction. Furthermore, intelligent vehicles will reduce congestion, emissions and the need for costly additions of lanes to busy roadways; and
WHEREAS, the University of Iowa and its related research endeavors, most notably, The National Advanced Driving Simulator and the Public Policy Center, have been at the forefront of advancing innovations in vehicle-to-vehicle communications, sensor technology, human factors, artificial intelligence, and public policy issues critical to the success of this transformational change; and
WHEREAS, many companies in our region have been successfully pioneering similar vehicle systems in the agricultural, aerospace and related fields, and there exists a cluster of software and technology companies whose development can be encouraged by supportive communities; and
WHEREAS, it is our stated goal to engage in strategic economic development initiatives that will create high-paying employment opportunities to strengthen our overall economy and provide benefit to all citizens. We realize that those communities and states that are first to embrace this life-saving and transformational technological advancement will stand to gain the most potential economic benefit.
NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that we, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, do hereby proclaim that Johnson County welcomes the testing and operation of intelligent vehicles on the streets and roads over which we have jurisdiction in accordance with applicable law, as a means to encourage the advancement of this technology and to create economic benefit, and will, if necessary, work collaboratively with other jurisdictions in Johnson County to address any issues that arise in order to best protect the safety of our citizens.
Signed this 24th day of July, 2014, in Johnson County, Iowa.