Iowa’s Johnson County Board of Supervisors First in Nation to Welcome Driverless Car Operations

Last week, the John­son Coun­ty, Iowa, Board of Super­vi­sors approved a procla­ma­tion encour­ag­ing autonomous vehi­cle test­ing as a pub­lic safe­ty and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment ini­tia­tive.

The procla­ma­tion passed unan­i­mous­ly on a 5–0 vote.

“When you con­sid­er what’s already avail­able, such as hands-free park­ing, this tech­nol­o­gy is utter­ly amaz­ing,” said Janelle Ret­ting, John­son Coun­ty Super­vi­sor.  “I’m excit­ed that John­son Coun­ty can be on the fore­front of test­ing, inno­va­tion, and safe­ty, pro­vid­ing jobs and oppor­tu­ni­ties for our cit­i­zens.”

The Iowa City Area Devel­op­ment (ICAD) Group has made autonomous vehi­cle test­ing a pri­or­i­ty since March and has already met with indus­try lead­ers at the Auto­mat­ed Vehi­cle Sym­po­sium in San Fran­cis­co last week.

Accord­ing to Mark Nolte, ICAD Group Pres­i­dent, autonomous vehi­cle test­ing tech­nol­o­gy needs two things to advance, real road time and sim­u­lat­ed test­ing, and East­ern Iowa is the ide­al spot.  “We offer ready con­nec­tion to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Iowa with its depth of research in Human Fac­tors, Dri­ving Sim­u­la­tion and V2V sys­tems, as well as the Nation­al Advanced Dri­ving Sim­u­la­tor,” said Nolte.  “And now the pub­lic sec­tor has stepped up to declare that our roads can be made avail­able to advance pub­lic safe­ty and gain more con­sumer adop­tion.”

ICAD Group con­tin­ues to set meet­ings with com­pa­nies and orga­ni­za­tions from the Auto­mat­ed Vehi­cle Sym­po­sium and is work­ing on estab­lish­ing dates with local city coun­cils for future procla­ma­tions.

The John­son Coun­ty procla­ma­tion reads as fol­lows:


WHEREAS, the next tech­no­log­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion that will pro­found­ly affect our lives will be the intro­duc­tion of pas­sen­ger and freight auto­mo­biles oper­at­ing with autonomous func­tion­al­i­ty.  These vehi­cles have the poten­tial to one day elim­i­nate traf­fic fatal­i­ties caused by human error and dis­trac­tion.  Fur­ther­more, intel­li­gent vehi­cles will reduce con­ges­tion, emis­sions and the need for cost­ly addi­tions of lanes to busy road­ways; and

WHEREAS, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Iowa and its relat­ed research endeav­ors, most notably, The Nation­al Advanced Dri­ving Sim­u­la­tor and the Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Cen­ter, have been at the fore­front of advanc­ing inno­va­tions in vehi­cle-to-vehi­cle com­mu­ni­ca­tions, sen­sor tech­nol­o­gy, human fac­tors, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, and pub­lic pol­i­cy issues crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of this trans­for­ma­tion­al change; and

WHEREAS, many com­pa­nies in our region have been suc­cess­ful­ly pio­neer­ing sim­i­lar vehi­cle sys­tems in the agri­cul­tur­al, aero­space and relat­ed fields, and there exists a clus­ter of soft­ware and tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies whose devel­op­ment can be encour­aged by sup­port­ive com­mu­ni­ties; and

WHEREAS, it is our stat­ed goal to engage in strate­gic eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment ini­tia­tives that will cre­ate high-pay­ing employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties to strength­en our over­all econ­o­my and pro­vide ben­e­fit to all cit­i­zens.  We real­ize that those com­mu­ni­ties and states that are first to embrace this life-sav­ing and trans­for­ma­tion­al tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ment will stand to gain the most poten­tial eco­nom­ic ben­e­fit.

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that we, the John­son Coun­ty Board of Super­vi­sors, do here­by pro­claim that John­son Coun­ty wel­comes the test­ing and oper­a­tion of intel­li­gent vehi­cles on the streets and roads over which we have juris­dic­tion in accor­dance with applic­a­ble law, as a means to encour­age the advance­ment of this tech­nol­o­gy and to cre­ate eco­nom­ic ben­e­fit, and will, if nec­es­sary, work col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly with oth­er juris­dic­tions in John­son Coun­ty to address any issues that arise in order to best pro­tect the safe­ty of our cit­i­zens.

Signed this 24th day of July, 2014, in John­son Coun­ty, Iowa.



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