A new initiative for connected and autonomous vehicles in Illinois will permit companies to pilot their transportation technologies and explore the industry’s reach as an engine for economic development, Gov. Bruce Rauner said in signing an executive order Oct. 25 to create the program.
The initiative takes a form similar to those that had been launched by states and cities with growing regularity before an Uber-operated autonomous vehicle fatally struck a woman in Tempe, AZ, in March. The order establishes a framework for Illinois’ transportation department to work closely with other state agencies, local governments and private industry in pursuit of anticipated benefits around public safety, the economy and everyday convenience for residents.
The death in Tempe gave leaders around the country pause, and though initiatives quietly continued in many places, it was with a renewed focus on safety. Some localities halted testing, including Arizona, though Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order in October establishing a public-private research center to continue developing emerging transportation technologies.
Rauner’s order cites the potential of the technology to “profoundly improve Illinois residents’ lives and communities.”
In a press release, the governor said, “This technology is here and Illinois is ready to embrace it. Working with our public and private partners, we can make our roads safer, save lives, attract investment and create new high-tech jobs throughout the state.”
The initiative, called ” Autonomous Illinois,” charges the transportation department and its collaborators to review connected and autonomous vehicle research as it pertains to issues of privacy, law enforcement, environmental efforts, insurance coverage, liability, data-sharing arrangements and the state’s infrastructure needs. Initiative leadership is also to evaluate current laws, inform the public of its findings and work closely with industry experts and other government bodies with a particular emphasis on improving safety and mobility for “the elderly, disabled and underserved populations.”
A pilot testing program outlines policies and procedures for companies interested in testing their technologies in Illinois. The program adds Illinois to a list of 39 other states that have either enacted some form of legislation or issued executive orders related to autonomous vehicles, according to data gathered by the National Conference of State Legislators.