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September 2, 2020 1:30 PM, EDT

DOT Launches Tracking Tool for AV TEST Initiative

Nuro R2Nuro's R2 autonomous vehicle on a neighborhood street. Other participating companies are Beep, Cruise, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Local Motors, Navya, Toyota, Uber and Waymo.(Nuro via Associated Press)

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U.S. Department of Transportation officials unveiled an online tracking tool for the agency’s Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing (AV TEST) Initiative on Sept. 2.

The publicly available tool provides data about on-road testing activities associated with automated driving systems throughout the country.

Displayed as an interactive map, the tool allows users to view testing locations and learn details about the companies involved and the types of vehicles being tested.

People also can view legislation and policies that states have developed regarding autonomous vehicles. The data has been voluntarily submitted by government agencies and private sector groups.

Launched in June, the AV TEST initiative was designed to increase transparency and inform the public about automated vehicle technologies. It’s meant to facilitate engagement among government leaders, industry representatives and the public.

“[The initiative] brings the department together with states, local governments and private sector stakeholders,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said during the unveiling event. “[The platform] unlocks valuable information for state and local governments overseeing testing. It encourages developers to exercise better, safer practices, and it provides clarity on AV testing for communities all across the country.”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Deputy Administrator James Owens said public trust will be key to the adoption of automated driving systems. During his remarks, he said DOT has held nine virtual events to discuss the initiative, attracting more than 3,000 industry representatives.

Participating companies are Beep, Cruise, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Local Motors, Navya, Nuro, Toyota, Uber and Waymo. The states involved are Arizona, California, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah.

“We’ve been pleased by the tremendous interest we’ve received,” Owens said. “We’ve been blown away. As more stakeholders participate and as more data is collected, the web tool will become more and more robust.”

The speakers noted that automated vehicle technology can improve safety and offer mobility options for people who face transportation challenges, such as the elderly and the disabled.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and participated in the virtual event, said 94% of all traffic accidents are due to human error, such as impaired or distracted driving.

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