Key Trends and Partnerships in USDOT AV Proving Grounds

January 25, 2017

In an effort to accelerate autonomous vehicle (AV) testing and information sharing throughout the country, now-former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx designated ten AV proving grounds on his last full day in office.

The designees were selected from a pool of over 60 applicants who responded to a Federal Register Notice that solicited pilot program proposals in November of last year. Applicants included universities, state DOTs, cities, private companies, and partnerships.

Announced on January 19, the proving grounds are intended to form what Foxx called a “Community of Practice” for safe testing and development of AVs.

While no federal funding is tied to the program, the intent is to establish a working group that will develop nationally applicable best practices and lessons learned. For this reason, the proving grounds vary widely in institutional expertise, geographical location, and climate.

Some of the designees were familiar suspects in the autonomous vehicle world, like the City of Pittsburgh and Contra Costa Transportation Authority. But there were also a number of newer entrants, including the University of Wisconsin and Iowa City.

Notably, densely populated urban areas were largely left out – the city with the highest density is Pittsburgh. In the program details that are publicly available, it appears that initial testing operations will be conducted on military bases, on designated test tracks, and in rural areas.

Another interesting anomaly emerged in that half of the proving grounds were located in states with autonomous vehicle policies (whether by executive order or legislation), while the other half were not.

With State AV Policies Without State AV Policies
California: Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) & GoMentum Station

California: San Diego Association of Governments

Florida: Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners

Maryland: U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center

Michigan: American Center for Mobility (ACM) at Willow Run

Iowa: Iowa City Area Development Group

North Carolina: North Carolina Turnpike Authority

Pennsylvania: City of Pittsburgh and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute

Texas: Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership

Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin-Madison

ETW has compiled a list of the known partners and testing locations based on currently available information. We will update this list as test sites and their partners release additional details.

City of Pittsburgh and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute at Penn State

Partners and known regional testers: Uber, Delphi

Location(s): Pittsburgh public roads and the Larson Institute’s closed test track in a rural area

Note: Pittsburgh and Penn State submitted separate applications, but USDOT consolidated them as one proving ground.

Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership

Major Partners: Texas A&M University System, University of Texas at Austin, Southwest Research Institute, Prairie View A&M University, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Houston; 32 public agencies and regional stakeholders

Location(s): Texas A&M RELLIS Proving Ground and designated Urban and Freight Test Beds:

  • Austin Area: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and Riverside Drive corridor.
  • Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington Area: UTA Campus, Arlington streets, I-30 Corridor, including Managed Lanes.
  • El Paso Area: Tornillo/Guadalupe Port of Entry.
  • Houston Area: Texas Medical Center, Houston METRO high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, and Port of Houston.
  • San Antonio Area: Fredericksburg Road/Medical Drive corridor and bus rapid transit system.

*A detailed program description can be found here.

Designated Texas AV Proving Grounds and Sites

U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center

Partners: Unannounced

Location(s): Unannounced

Note: While the full scope of the project was not officially announced and Aberdeen did not issue a press release, the original MDOT application included the I-95 corridor from Aberdeen Proving Ground to Fort Meade/University of Maryland (includes Baltimore Washington International Airport, Port of Baltimore, public roadways, public/private research and testing facilities)

(Source: Maryland DOT)

American Center for Mobility (ACM) at Willow Run

Partners: State of Michigan, Michigan DOT, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, University of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan, Ann Arbor Spark, AT&T; Also aligned with Michigan automakers

Location(s): Willow Run Airport testing facility (construction will begin in early April); pending Michigan DOT approval for ACM to take over 2.5 miles of U.S. 12 for a high-speed test area with dynamic driving

(Source: MLive)

Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) & GoMentum Station

GoMentum Station Partners: City of Concord, Stantec, Honda, Otto, EasyMile, BestMile, TriDelta Transit, Bishop Ranch, Bay Area Rapid Transportation District, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, ITS America, ITS Australia, ITS California, Ministry of Transport-Singapore, ITS New Zealand, Canadian Automated Vehicles Center of Excellence, Tongji University, California Polytechnic State University

Location(s): GoMentum Station

San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG)

Partners: Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) and the City of Chula Vista

The program also “garnered support from major auto manufacturers and technology companies” including: Toyota, Qualcomm, Teradata, and DENSO International America, Inc., according to SANDAG

Location(s): Interstate 15 express lanes, South Bay Expressway, City of Chula Vista public roads

(SANDAG press release here)

Iowa City Area Development Group

Partners: Iowa Creative Corridor, University of Iowa (which has the National Advanced Driving Simulator), Iowa DOT; (A local news channel references support from private companies, local communities, and Eastern Iowa Airport)

Location(s): Iowa City Area

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Partners: Currently in talks with companies

Location(s): MGA Research Corp. test facility, Road America race track, Madison streets, state highways, UW-Madison, and Epic Systems campus

(Source: Wisconsin State Journal)

Potential AV testing route at University of Wisconsin, Madison

Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners

Partners: City of Orlando, University of Central Florida, Florida Polytechnic University, FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, Florida Department of Transportation – Districts 5 and 1, Central Florida Expressway, Lynx, NASA – Kennedy Space Center

Commitments of Support: MetroPlan Orlando, Orange County, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Osceola County, Polk County, Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization, Florida Department of Transportation

Location(s): SunTrax; NASA Kennedy Space Center; public highways, roadways, and transit

(Source: City of Orlando)

North Carolina Turnpike Authority (via North Carolia DOT)

Partners: Not stated

Location(s): Triangle Expressway Toll Road in western Wake County


Search Eno Transportation Weekly

Latest Issues

Happening on the Hill