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STATE FOCUS


Department of transformation


Matt Curry and Kevin Borras report from East Liberty, Ohio – home to the soon to be expanding Transportation Research Center. Already the largest independent automotive proving ground in North America, its CEO Mark-Tami Hotta is presiding over an exciting new era


sity are funding the US$45 million Phase 1 expansion of the Transportation Research Center’s (TRC) all-new 540-acre SMART (Smart Mobility Advanced Research and Test) Center – a state-of-the-art hub for automated and autonomous testing to be built within the 4,500 acres of the nation’s largest independent automotive proving grounds. “Thanks to the support of the state of


O


Ohio, Ohio Department of Transportation, JobsOhio and The Ohio State University, the SMART Center expansion provides the capabilities, facilities and support to ena- ble the development of future automated vehicles,” says Mark-Tami Hotta, CEO, TRC Inc. “TRC’s SMART Center is designed to test new technologies and highly automated vehicles in a closed, safe, secure and repeat- able real world environment, before the vehicles are deployed on public roads and highways. Smart mobility, with connected vehicles and enhanced infrastructures, offers greater accessibility and mobility


26


hio Governor John R Kasich (above) announced in January that the State of Ohio and the Ohio State Univer-


options, reduced road congestion and more efficient use of natural resources.” Phase 1 of the expansion will include a


flexible platform and infrastructure; the industry’s largest high-speed intersection; the industry’s longest and most flexible test platform (a space the width of more than 50 highway lanes and the length of 10 football fields end-to-end); an urban network of intersections, roundabouts, traffic signals; a rural network including wooded roads, neighborhood network and a SMART Center support building. “There’s been an explosion of demand


for active safety and autonomous testing around the world, and TRC’s SMART Center is committed to providing a comprehensive solution to that demand,” explains Hotta. “As the largest independent vehicle


test facility and proving grounds in North America, with more than 1,000 customers worldwide, we’re experts in testing and validating vehicles. “We want to provide the industry and


government regulatory agencies every test and infrastructure needed to make auto- mated and autonomous vehicles safe for


public roads, as we have been doing for the last 40 years.” “We have visited virtually every other


active safety and autonomous vehicle test facility around the world, talked with doz- ens of customers, and are partnering with many others in this space so that we can best serve the needs of everyone regarding creating safer vehicles, safer drivers, and safer roads,” Hotta adds.


WHAT WOULD IT HAVE MEANT HAD THE FUNDING NOT BEEN FORTHCOMING? “This is huge for TRC, it is huge for central Ohio, it is huge for our customers, huge for the industry and most importantly of all it is huge for advancing highway safety. As you know, there are more than 35,000 highway fatalities a year - that’s the equivalent of a Boeing 737 crashing every day and killing everyone on board. With advanced active driving assistance sys- tems and automated driving technologies, we are going through what is probably the most transformational change in the auto- motive industry in our lifetimes,” he notes with unbridled enthusiasm.


www.thinkinghighways.com


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