Autonomous Vehicle testing, production to create jobs, relieve mass transit woes
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — To position Tennessee for the next generation of auto industry job growth, Tennessee Senator Mark Green, MD (R-Clarksville) has filed legislation that establishes a business climate that encourages Autonomous Vehicle testing and production. Such legislation will enable metropolitan governments, such as Davidson County, to relieve mass transit pressures and Tennessee’s auto giants to lead in high-tech jobs creating the cars of the not-too-distant future.
“Due to hard work by Lamar Alexander and Governor Haslam, Tennessee has become an automotive manufacturing leader. It’s time we bring the brains of the operation, the R&D to Tennessee as well,” observed Dr. Green, who serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee. “This legislation establishes the necessary framework to link transportation law and industry innovation and places Tennessee as the nation’s first to welcome the technology.”
Senate Bill 1561 would establish definitions that mirror industry operations and needs for the manufacture and testing of “operator-required” (ORAV) and “no-operator-required autonomous vehicles” (NORAV) while ensuring public safety through state oversight through Tennessee’s Departments of Transportation and Safety. The proposal creates the legislative framework not only for safety, but registration, taxation parity with current vehicles using public highways and for future operations in mass transit applications.
“This bill has been in the works for months, but the call issued by the USDOT for applications for the Smart Cities Grant triggered my immediate phone call to Mayor Barry offering my help,” continued Green referencing the competition for $50 million in public-private funding available in the “Smart City Challenge” announced by the US Department of Transportation and Vulcan, Inc., a private investment company.
The Smart City Challenge is a national competition limited to “mid-sized” cities with the winner-take-all prize of $50 million funded by both the US Department of Transportation and Vulcan, Inc. founded by philanthropist Paul Allen, which invests in high-tech and disruptive technology. The Challenge is aimed to produce the “next-generation transportation systems” with the February 4, 2016 application deadline for competing cities fast-approaching. Five finalists will be announced in the spring with the winner revealed in June.
“In order to better address our transportation and transit needs, we need to be looking to the technology of tomorrow, not stay stuck in the ways of the past” said Nashville Mayor Megan Barry. “I appreciate Sen. Green’s efforts to update our laws to reflect the changing technological landscape in a way that will lay the groundwork for our city and state to remain competitive both nationally and internationally for the transportation technologies of the future.”
For more information, please contact Alice Bigham, in TN Senator Mark Green’s office at (615) 741-2374 and Sean Braisted in Mayor Megan Barry’s office.