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Preparing the Public Sector For AVs

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May 21, 2021—As autonomous vehicle technology continues to advance and implementation continues to grow, one of the most important preparations that will need to be made is in the public sector.

How will local, state and federal communities help prepare its citizenry for an AV future? And how can the public sector fully understand the technology themselves?

Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE) held its first workshop for public sector officials this week, hoping to provide education on that exact topic. ADAPT Automotive sat in on a virtual panel conducted by PAVE and DriveOhio, an organization within the state’s Department of Transportation that is dedicated to build infrastructure for smart mobility, discussing the important finding of the workshop. 

Here’s some of the key takeaways from the panel:

Education is needed

What are AVs? What are the differences between ADAS technology and AV technology? When is widespread implementation going to happen? How can it be funded? Is it safe? 

Those are questions that Rich Granger, DriveOhio’s Managing Director of Workforce and Economic Development, and Luke Stedke, Managing Director of Communications & Policy, get often from public sector officials and the general public. 

Through workshops, like the one PAVE conducted, they hope to address those gaps in education while also learning about what the public sector will need from other groups. 

Ohio has been one of the top states to embrace autonomous and connected technologies. Through state and federal grants, DriveOhio has put together more than 15 projects using these advanced technologies. They’ve deployed everything from self-driving shuttles to short-range digital communication units on a 60-mile stretch of highway that collects data to help better understand ways to reduce crashes. 

“If we’re going to make sure that Ohio’s economy is moving at full speed for the 21st century we have no choice but to embrace these technologies,” Granger said.

These programs have been pivotal to helping educate state and local governments about the potential of advanced technology. It’s also important to educate because there is still policy that needs to be implemented. Stedke said there is still a need for equipment standards. Codes need to align with technology and interoperability between states will be important. Those changes will come with increased education to government officials and to the public at large. 

Use AVs to re-think transportation design. 

In talking with different communities, one thing Granger and Stedke pushed during the panel was using advanced technology to fix current gaps, not replicate current systems. The duo pointed to one community as an example: people with disabilities. 

The organization has heard from those inside their organization and out, that current transportation systems aren’t adequate for the disabled. Instead of trying to replicate current systems, re-think the design process, Stedke said. 

Granger said it comes through talking to people with disabilities. Listen to them. Hire them. Let them shape programs to help themselves. This goes with any group, not just those with disabilities, understand what needs fixing and try to use these technologies to do it. 

Granger and Stedke said often there is a discussion about just tweaking current systems, or fitting AVs into current systems. However, that won’t fix underlying problems. So either those underlying problems needed to be fixed first, or the new technology needs to be catered to fix it. 

To watch the virtual panel, click here.

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