Austin joins pilot program to help manage self-driving vehicles

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As more vehicles with self-driving capabilities hit the pavement, cities and transportation agencies are trying to figure out how to make sure everyone on the road remain safe. 

On Tuesday, Austin announced it was teaming up with INRIX to pilot a new autonomous vehicle deployment platform called INRIX AV Road Rules.

INRIX, which KXAN uses to power our traffic map, says its platform will help establish a foundation so cities can easily digitize its local rules such as speed limits, school zones and stop signs for autonomous vehicles. 

“Once these rules and restrictions are digitized, vehicle operators can leverage this data to ensure safety and compliance. The system also allows vehicles in operation to report infrastructure needs (potholes, inadequate lane striping or signage) for attention and review by the road authority,” explains INRIX. 

City transportation representatives say this is a “major step forward” in Austin’s efforts to use technology as a way to fix our area’s transportation issues.

“We’re excited to participate in the INRIX AV Road Rules program to foster more efficient and accurate data sharing between autonomous vehicles, their data providers and Austin Transportation. This will help us realize Austin’s autonomous future in the safest, most effective and most efficient way possible,” said Jason JonMichael, Austin Transportation Assistant Director for Smart Mobility, in a statement.

He says the move will allow the City of Austin to share viable and up-to-date and relevant information with autonomous vehicle manufacturers. 

“It gives us the ability to share that information with the private sector in a way that we haven’t been able to before,” he added. 

The end goal, JonMichael says, is for the city to pursue real-time information.

“For us to get there, we need to start figuring out today how do we share information that we have with those autonomous vehicles so that they can be more informed AVs operating on our roadways,” he said. 

Austin is one of seven cities across the country that has signed on to support the pilot program. 

Last year, Texas lawmakers passed a statewide law laying the groundwork for the state to lead the nation in implementing self-driving cars.

The law puts the power to regulate self-driving cars in the hands of the state, and not local cities or counties. 

The Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute also agreed to test autonomous vehicles on state highways.

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