The city of Portland wants to get out ahead of the coming autonomous vehicle trend by opening up its streets to companies that want to test their technology.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Transportation Commissioner Dan Saltzman have asked the city’s Bureau of Transportation to create a set of rules for testing and deployment of self-driving cars within 60 days. By putting these policies in place, Portland wants to have a voice in shaping the burgeoning technology.
“We can’t simply dismiss the idea that autonomous vehicles are going to be a big part of our transportation system,” Wheeler said to the Portland Business Alliance, as reported by The Oregonian. “Instead of waiting for this new technology to come here and have us confront it, the responsible thing to do is to prepare for this future.”
Autonomous vehicles need to log hours and hours of tests so that the technology can get smarter and more aware of everything going on on roads. Driverless cars will likely force changes to infrastructure, such as optimizing road signs and stoplights so that autonomous vehicles can read them.
Bloomberg reports that the city will work with autonomous vehicle companies to see how the technology fits in with Portland’s goal of reducing carbon emissions and the needs of residents. The city may also invest in companies that work on autonomous public transit options that connect to Portland’s existing transit infrastructure.
Washington State is also making an effort to be involved in the driverless car conversation. Google autonomous vehicle spinout Waymo, is testing its driverless car technology in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland and other cities around the country. And a group of Washington state legislators are crafting regulations they say will help get the state ready for autonomous vehicles.