Pocono Raceway considered for driverless car proving ground

Someday race cars might have no drivers
Someday race cars might have no drivers either. After all, racing must be relevant to production cars right?

Pennsylvania State officials hope to bring automated vehicle testing to Monroe County. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on Tuesday announced plans to establish and expand testing at three facilities, including one at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond. "This technology is coming," said PennDOT Spokesperson Erin Waters-Trasatt on Tuesday. "Pennsylvania is a leader in seeing that this technology is developed as safely and efficiently as possible."

Automated vehicle testing has started in the commonwealth already. In June, PennDOT formed an Autonomous Vehicle Task Force to draft policies for guide testing in Pennsylvania. The department and task force also worked with state lawmakers to introduce regulatory legislation, slated for enactment this year. The U.S. Department of Transportation solicited applications for its new Automated Vehicle Proving Ground Pilot Program in November. PennDOT proposed three sites in the commonwealth, each with a varied testing environment.

First listed is the city of Pittsburgh, where automated vehicle testing has begun already. Carnegie Melon University researchers have also worked with city officials to implement "smart" technologies, such as adaptive control systems for traffic signals and streetlights. With safety precautions in place already, Pittsburgh offers the opportunity to test connected vehicles in an urban setting, the application says.

PennDOT also lists a test track at Penn State University in State College. The closed track would provide a test site safely away from public exposure. It would also allow for highly controllable surface conditions; researchers could simulate weather conditions by "wetting or icing the surface" at various temperatures.

Pocono Raceway's closed track would be "ideal for testing higher speeds" and "multiple connected vehicles," says the PennDOT application. The racetrack fulfils a specific role, wherein researchers can operate vehicles that "cannot be tested in a laboratory or live roadway test simulation." Pocono Record

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