8 state DOTs collaborate to launch autonomous forum

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Just as California inches its way toward a formal ban on driverless commercial trucks, eight states' departments of transportation are joining together to develop an online community where public and private sector autonomous vehicle (AV) stakeholders can share information, align needs and collaborate on activities. 

AccelerateAV.org, which launched June 15, is free and open forum to all AV ecosystem stakeholders and was initiated by the AV Pooled Fund, which is made up of DOTs from Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. The states joined forces in 2020 to try to align the needs of the AV industry with the abilities of state DOTs to assist with those needs. 

"Autonomous trucks – and freight/logistics –are very much part of the conversation for the site," said Tara Andringa, executive director of 501(c)(3) nonprofit Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE). PAVE is a coalition of industry, nonprofits, and academics with a goal of bringing the conversation about AVs to the public in an educational role, not advocating for a particular technology or specific public policies. "We see a great need for public/private sector collaboration on the issue -- and... developments in California are illustrative of that point. This group of states recognized that they are all looking at similar issues, so they decided to pool resources to answer these questions.  Essentially, they want to know what states can do to best support these new technologies and this new industry."

As automated vehicles become more commonplace, Andringa said states are all considering what this means for them – for example, what infrastructure changes do they need to consider? What changes to licensing? Or law enforcement?  

As part of the formation of the AV Pooled Fund, the collective of state DOTs commissioned a report to identify how states can best support the AV technologies. 

"One of the recommendations of the report is that there is a need for better communication and collaboration between industry and the public sector," Andringa said. "The purpose of the forum... is to provide a vehicle for that communication."

The multi-functional platform is designed to allow for user networking, collaboration, consultation and resource sharing. Users can join conversations, search for other users, share news and events, or participate in events and discussions.

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at jasoncannon@randallreilly.com.