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Ohio Transportation Center to Open Site for Smart Mobility Testing With $45M Grant

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【Summary】The Ohio Transportation Research Center (TRC) is getting a $45 million grant from the state government and Ohio State University (OSU), to expand and upgrade its site and infrastructure for autonomous and connected vehicles’ testing programs.

Original Claire    Feb 02, 2017 4:30 PM PT
Ohio Transportation Center to Open Site for Smart Mobility Testing With $45M Grant

The Ohio Transportation Research Center (TRC) is getting a $45 million grant from the state government and Ohio State University (OSU), to expand and upgrade its site and infrastructure for autonomous and connected vehicles' testing programs.

Ohio Governor John R. Kasich made the announcement at a press conference held in OSU's Center for Automotive Research in Columbus, adding that the new financial support is propelling TRC to build the first phase of 540 acre SMART (Smart Mobility Advanced Research and Test) center.

"We are the best independent automotive testing center in America. We want to be the best in the world." The Governor said.

The Phase 1 of the new center will include the largest high-speed intersection in industry and the longest and most flexible test platform. The latter has a width of more than 50 highway lanes and a length of 10 football fields. Besides, three sites will be built with specific scenarios- including an urban network of intersections, roundabouts and traffic signals, a rural site with wooded roads, and a neighborhood network that tests slower speeds.

"TRC's SMART Center is designed to test new technologies and highly automated vehicles in a closed, safe, secure and repeatable real world environment, before the vehicles are deployed on public roads and highways." Mark-Tami Hotta, CEO of TRC Inc said through a statement. He added that the high demand for active safety and autonomous testing around world urges TRC to build a SMART center to provide a comprehensive solution.

TRC has been running for 40 years and owns 1000 customers worldwide. It has tested different types of vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses, military vehicles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), etc. It is the home of the only federal vehicle research and test lab for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Hotta also mentions that the management team of TRC has visited almost all testing facilities for autonomous cars around the world, talked with customers and partnered with other organizations, to make sure the SMART center can best serve people's testing needs.

Currently, there are 10 official testing grounds that are approved by US Department of Transportation, and TRC is not on the list. However, the Transportation Center boasts a 4500 acres of testing facilities and claims to be the largest independent test facility and proving ground in North America.

After the SMART center is built up, it will be used to craft future driverless vehicle regulations from NHTSA. Meanwhile, auto manufacturers and suppliers will also be given access to test their vehicles in developing the autonomous and connected car technology.

For Phase 2 and Phase 3, the Center is still seeking for more funding to build its Smart Mobility Advanced Research and Test Center, which will include a full highway loop and an indoor testing ground that is worry-free in terms of inclement weather.

With the new money backing up specifically for smart mobility testing, the center might become a new member to add to the official list. 

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