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Arizona revamps self-driving vehicle research with Institute for Automated Mobility

Posted at 6:29 PM, Oct 11, 2018

Arizona is revamping its self-driving vehicle research with the newly-announced Institute for Automated Mobility. 

Governor Doug Ducey on Thursday signed an executive order establishing the new project, partnering together several state agencies and universities, along with Intel.

“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,” said Ducey. “Arizona is committed to providing the leadership and
knowledge necessary to integrate these technologies into the world’s transportation systems.”

Sandra Watson, the President of the Arizona Commerce Authority, described the new partnership as an institute of facilities, a simulation lab and technology infrastructure for automated mobility.

Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan, the Governor’s advisor on Science and Technology, says this new initiative will help build a strong relationship between government, academia, and industry.

"People will get a glimpse of how these things are working or going to work. All these things are truly impactful for Arizona,” Dr. Panchanathan said. “The ultimate thing would be that the vehicles will drive themselves, anticipate every possible situation and be able to respond and be safe. Not only vehicles communicating with their environment but vehicles being able to communicate amongst themselves. That's very powerful isn't it?”

The project includes the Arizona Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety, ASU, UofA, NAU, and Intel.

Jack Weast, Senior Principal Engineer at Intel and VP of Automated Vehicle Standards at MobilEye, issued the following statement:

Intel’s work with IAM will focus on all aspects of automated vehicle safety, including the technology behind it, the policies that govern it, and the standards that are needed on a global level. All of these are critical things we need to address so that states can figure out how and when to give an AV a license to drive.

Toward this end, Intel will work with all partners offering Mobileye’s Responsibility Sensitive Safety (RSS) model as a starting point for building their solutions. We will also continue collaborating with ASU and all IAM partners on the necessary research and testing that will advance the mission. This includes funding, input on the design for the test track, and RSS formulas for IAM partners to evaluate.

Arizona has committed $1.5 million to launch the program, which comes from loans being repaid by small businesses.

New testing facilities will focus on cars, but also trucks and potentially drones in years to come. 

Uber’s automated vehicle testing in Arizona was halted after a woman was hit and killed on her bicycle while crossing Mill Avenue in Tempe in March 2018. The woman was hit by a self-driving Uber vehicle, which had a backup driver in the car at the time.

Search warrants of the backup driver’s phone obtained by police showed the backup driver was streaming a show on their phone at the time of the crash.

So far no charges have been filed against the backup driver, Rafaela Vasquez, but the case is still under investigation.

Uber has since moved their automated vehicle testing to Pittsburgh.

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

An Intel representative also said the institute will be used to develop safety standards and policies. Intel says they’ve been working closely with ASU researchers to find ways to challenge safety standards of safety for automated vehicles.

Waymo continues to test automated vehicles in the Chandler area and has said recently that it stands by the safety of their self-driving vehicles.

Waymo announced recently that it will expand its' autonomous ride-sharing service across the Phoenix Metro area before the end of 2018.

Exact locations for testing facilities for the new IAM program, and dates of expected launches, have not been released.