by Morgan Montalvo
While San Antonio may not be on the fast track to testing autonomous vehicles, municipal planners are mapping a future that includes self-driving cars, News radio 1200 WOAI reports.
At Tuesday’s Innovation and Technology Committee meeting, members heard from city staff monitoring the progress of autonomous vehicle testing in other major cities while poring over proposals from companies eager to see their driverless products evaluated locally.
Art Reinhardt with the city’s Transportation and Capital Improvements Office says testing – possibly in 2019 – would take place in select areas around San Antonio known as Innovations Zones, where emerging “smart” technologies can be evaluated. “
Specific to the Innovation Zones, we were looking at maybe in the Medical Center or at Brooks, where there are some different issues about parking or congestion or traffic, things like that.
And then we did have a use case here downtown, between two office buildings on a point-to-point type shuttle system,” Reinhardt says.
"Joint Base San Antonio also has expressed interest in serving as a local proving ground for driverless shuttles capable of carrying about a half-dozen passengers.
Reinhardt says two kinds of autonomous vehicles may find their way onto local streets, GPS-guided vehicles that move along pre-mapped routes, or vehicles that employ a camera capable of reading specially configured street or traffic signs and curb markings.
And while Reinhardt says there currently is no timeline to launch a driverless testing program in the Alamo City, safety will steer the conversation once elected leaders give his office the green light to proceed with autonomous vehicle evaluation.
“Ninety-four percent of all roadway fatalities occur from driver error,” says Reinhardt. “Across the country, about 40,000 people die annually from roadway fatalities, so if we can remove the human element, that will be a huge improvement on safety.”
GRAPHIC: CITY OF SAN ANTONIO