Ohio’s Route 33 Will be Turned Into a Self-driving car Test Circuit

The autonomous vehicle industry is slowly heating up all over the United States. A lot of major car manufacturers have unveiled their plans for self-driving vehicles. However, several states want to play a big role in this process as well. Ohio, in particular, is opening part of Route 33 for the testing of self-driving vehicles. An intriguing turn of events hardly anyone saw coming.

Ohio Is A Big Fan of Autonomous Vehicle Testing

It is quite interesting to see some US states are open-minded when it comes to testing driverless cars on the open road. Although the current iteration of these cars still proves to be a security risk, the only way to make them smarter is by setting them loose in a real-life environment. The state of Ohio acknowledges this need and plans to open up 35 miles of Route 33 for this specific purpose. It will require some modifications before this route is ready to be tested, though.

More specifically, the stretch of Route 33 will need to be wired up so manufacturers can test vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. This is a mandatory aspect of making autonomous vehicles successful in the long run. What is even more remarkable is how this project came to be. It turns out the project is funded by a mix of local and federal funds. This goes to show government officials in Ohio feel their state can bring something useful to the table when it comes to testing self-driving vehicles.

By opening up Route 33 to vehicle-to-infrastructure testing, manufacturers can work on solving traffic issues in the future. Having autonomous cars talk to one another will alleviate congestion, as we have discussed in a previous article. Gathering as much test data as possible is the number one priority in this regard. It will be interesting to see how many manufacturers will make use of Route 33 for this particular purpose.

Officials will prepare the stretch of Route 33 during the Summer of 2017. The necessary wiring will be put in place, although it is unclear when testing will officially commence. For now, there is no official “launch date” for this project. Rest assured a lot of US manufacturers will keep a close eye on this project, as it gives them an option to collect valuable data by driving across a stretch of US road.

Unfortunately, the general public will not see the fruits of this labor for quite some time to come. Albeit a lot of companies may come and collect valuable data over the next few months, they will keep all of the details to themselves for quite some time to come. It is possible we may never know what type of data is collected exactly until the first fleets of autonomous vehicles come to market. That could happen as soon as 2019, although most manufacturers may wait until 2020 or beyond.

All things considered, this goes to show there is a growing demand for “test circuits” capable of advancing self-driving vehicle technology. Not every company in the world is looking to venture to Korea for such testing purposes. Ohio is much closer for a lot of US manufacturers, thus it makes sense for them to test it out. The coming few years will shape the future of autonomous vehicles, and this stretch of Route 33 may play an integral role in the process.

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