Not that the industry has exactly been waiting for it, with numerous trials already taking place around the country, but the US Department of Transport has announced 10 testing sites that will be dedicated to the development of autonomous vehicles. The move brings further legitimacy to the fast-arriving world of self-driving cars and offers developers, regulators and communities new chances for collaboration.

The signs coming from Washington with regard to autonomous vehicles have indicated that the US government is prepared to not just embrace the technology, but take proactive steps to speed things up. Last year it revealed plans to invest US$4 billion in the technology over the coming decade, and then in September it introduced a policy designed to standardize self-driving laws across all 50 states.

Intended to encourage testing of autonomous cars and sharing of information, the latest move brings designated testing sites to 10 different locations spread out across the country. It is hoped that they will encourage a collaborative spirit among participants, bring new insights through big data and create new possibilities around mobility, including benefiting the lives of disadvantaged people and communities.

"The designated proving grounds will collectively form a Community of Practice around safe testing and deployment," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This group will openly share best practices for the safe conduct of testing and operations as they are developed, enabling the participants and the general public to learn at a faster rate and accelerating the pace of safe deployment."

The full list of testing ground sites are:

  • City of Pittsburgh and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute
  • Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership
  • US Army Aberdeen Test Center
  • American Center for Mobility (ACM) at Willow Run
  • Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) & GoMentum Station San Diego Association of Governments
  • Iowa City Area Development Group
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners
  • North Carolina Turnpike Authority

Source: US Department of Transport