Release Date: January 5, 2018
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Support from political and business leaders. Check.
Diverse real-world testing environments. Check.
World-class scientists and dynamic research facilities. Check.
All are signs pointing to New York’s ascendance — with the University at Buffalo playing a pivotal role —as a hub for the advancement of autonomous vehicles.
As much was said Wednesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in his annual State of the State address, which spotlighted UB’s newest tool for driverless vehicle research: a self-driving electric bus the university expects to take delivery of this winter.
With funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), UB has purchased an Olli. The bus, developed by Local Motors, can accommodate up to 12 passengers and uses sensors, including radar and cameras, to monitor the driving environment.
UB researchers will evaluate the vehicle — as well other autonomous vehicles — on campus roads. The plan is to conduct comprehensive testing, especially during inclement weather, with the goal of informing decisions regarding policy, safety, reliability and other matters.
Cuomo worked with state lawmakers last year to pass legislation that opened select New York roads to autonomous vehicle testing. On Wednesday, he said will work to extend and expand the legislation, noting it already helped prompt General Motors to plan autonomous vehicle testing in Manhattan later this year.
“To expand on the success of the 2017 legislation and encourage more autonomous vehicle manufacturers to operate in New York, the State must continue to remove legal barriers and further promote autonomous vehicle operations in the state,” states a plan outlining Cuomo’s vision that the governor’s office released on Wednesday.
It continued: “While states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, California, Arizona and Ohio have opened their doors and lightened regulations to attract the industry, few states offer as diverse a testing environment for this technology than New York. From the urban streets of New York City to the vast rural roads of the North Country, with seasons that range from steamy summer days to the coldest snowy winters, New York offers a wide variety of conditions necessary for the rapid advancement of autonomous vehicle technology.”
The Olli bus is latest example of UB’s leadership in transportation research. Some other examples include: