Ohio lawmakers want to boost autonomous vehicle testing

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Ohio lawmakers want to boost automated vehicle testing in the state. 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is asking the U.S. Transportation Secretary to reverse an Obama-era policy that keeps the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty from getting some federal money to test self-driving cars. 

Ohio lawmakers say this is the perfect place to test self-driving cars. 

They say it’s the largest and most sophisticated independent vehicle testing ground in North America. 

“They can test in different road conditions, different weather conditions, and wind conditions. They can simulate almost anything,” said Republican Representative Steve Strivers, of Ohio. 

Lawmakers in Ohio said they were puzzled when the Obama administration left East Liberty’s Transportation Research Center off a list of nationally designated test sites for autonomous vehicles. 

“It was odd,” Republican Representative Bill Johnson said. 

Congressman Steve Stivers said the ten testing centers that made the list, have access to certain partnerships and federal funding.

“There was $20 million in an appropriations bill that we put in for these test tracks,” Rep. Stivers said. 

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Republican and Democratic lawmakers said Ohio is being shut-out for no reason. 

They are asking Chao to reconsider. 

“Ohio has always been on the leading edge of tech innovation,” Rep. Johnson said. 

Congressman Bill Johnson says it just makes sense to test driverless cars at the center, because it’s already home to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association vehicle research and testing center. 

“They have expertise there, that doesn’t exist anywhere in the world,” Rep. Johnson said. 

Stivers and Johnson said testing driverless cars is critical.

“Autonomous vehicles are an incredible opportunity for our future, but they have to be safe,” Rep. Stivers said.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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