City Continues Plotting Course Toward Driverless Vehicle Testing

by Morgan Montalvo

WOAI News

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

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