Ohio: America’s Innovation Corridor
Innovation is a key to economic growth, and Ohio is on the leading edge. This is evident in the new ideas, processes and technologies that solve problems and forge new pathways forward.
Ohio is home to, or connected with, numerous businesses, academic institutions, research facilities and trade organizations involved in development and commercialization of new technologies, including those related to information technology and autonomous and connected vehicles.
Ohio is recognized as an emerging leader in the infrastructure and collaborative partnerships that drive innovation in information technology. Our IT infrastructure and collaborative ecosystem help companies excel in areas such as data analytics, cloud computing, cybersecurity and the internet of things. The presence of companies like IBM, 84.51°, Alliance Data, Teradata, Oracle and Saama illustrate the state’s growing status as a big data hub.
Ohio’s $100 million investment in IT infrastructure includes the publicly owned Ohio Supercomputer Center, which goes beyond commonly available commercial services by providing industry and researchers with integrated hardware, software and consulting under one roof. OARnet, Ohio’s next-generation broadband superhighway, connects businesses and academic partners with the fastest broadband infrastructure anywhere.
But nowhere is the state emerging more quickly than in the advancement of automotive and transportation systems, and Ohio is taking its next step: as a leader in connected and autonomous vehicles.
The time is right. Advancements in the next 10 to 15 years could have a dramatic impact on personal transportation and on the moving of freight over America’s highways. Innovation and advancements in technologies are disrupting and reshaping sectors and forcing companies to change their business models, in Ohio and across America. This can be seen most readily in an increasing digital economy that has affected our personal lives through smart phones, tablets and apps. This creates opportunities for investment in digital capabilities and tools like big data, cloud computing and sensors. All are crucial to the advancement of autonomous and connected vehicles, and all are growing in Ohio at breakneck speeds.
Ohio is deeply involved in the research and development of autonomy and sensors. For example, Ohio has developed a robust sensors cluster that includes creation of technology for autonomous vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles through collaborative partnerships with the University of Dayton, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and others. Meanwhile, Ohio is home to the Transportation Research Center (TRC), the largest independent, smart-mobility proving ground in the country and the only location where the U.S. Department of Transportation tests and develops traffic safety standards.
In January, Ohio furthered the TRC’s position when Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich announced that the State of Ohio, The Ohio State University and JobsOhio would invest $45 million in TRC’s first phase of a state-of-the-art hub for automated and autonomous testing. The new 540-acre Smart Mobility Advanced Research and Test Center will be built within the 4,500 acres of TRC’s testing facility. The first phase of the expansion includes:
- The industry’s largest high-speed intersection
- The industry’s longest and most flexible test platform (the width of more than 50 highway lanes and the length of 10 football fields end to end)
- An urban network of intersections, roundabouts and traffic signals
- A rural network that includes wooded roads
- A neighborhood network that tests slower speeds
- A SMART Center support building
Ohio’s science and technology assets helped the City of Columbus win the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge last year. The $40 million federal grant and significant third-party, co-investment means “Smart Columbus” will become the country’s first city to fully integrate innovative transportation technologies. The TRC SMART Center expansion is a key element in supporting the Department of Transportation’s Smart City initiative.
To date, Ohio has invested more than any other state in both controlled and open road testing.
For example, Ohio is creating smart mobility corridors that will be the proving ground for innovation in transportation. In November, state officials announced a $15 million investment in a Smart Mobility Corridor, installing fiber-optic cable and sensors in the 35-mile stretch of highway between Columbus and the TRC in East Liberty, where new technologies can be safely tested in real-life traffic situations.
As the longest autonomous-ready highway in the nation, the road will be lined in fiber-optic cable to allow highway sensors to communicate via Wi-Fi with autonomous cars about weather, traffic, road conditions and accidents. The sensors also will allow communication with government vehicles using short-range radio transmitters.
The Smart Mobility Corridor announcement also included two additional smart highway projects: Interstate 90 in northern Ohio and the Interstate 270 beltway in Columbus, which will connect Columbus Smart City and the Rickenbacker Logistics Hub with the TRC. Additional projects on Interstate 670 and the Ohio Turnpike are on deck.
Private industry is jumping into the future with both feet. Honda of America Mfg., based in Marysville, is working on a number of technologies to advance mobility and is collaborating in the Smart Columbus and the U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor initiatives. Meanwhile, Intel subsidiary Wind River System recently announced a partnership with the TRC, The Ohio State University and the City of Dublin, Ohio, to develop new self-driving and connected vehicle technologies.
In May, Silicon Valley-based Singularity University announced the Smart City Accelerator, the first program of its kind, in Columbus. The Smart City Accelerator will choose 10 businesses focused on mobility, connectivity data and analytics, infrastructure and energy, and manufacturing and production.
The Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research continues to conduct groundbreaking research focused on sustainable mobility, advanced vehicle safety, hybrid and electric powertrains, and intelligent transportation systems.
And just as the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering preliminary policies governing connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), the State of Ohio is building a central government hub to facilitate partnerships with private industry and economic development entities to drive Ohio’s preparation and leadership in transportation technology. The Center for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and is collaborating with entities such as JobsOhio to spur CAV development and deployment; develop best practices for other states to follow, gather input and evaluate current laws and regulations; make strategic recommendations on technology, and identify innovative financing opportunities for CAV technologies.
Finally, Ohio has entered a collaboration with Michigan and Pennsylvania in the Smart Belt Coalition of transportation agencies and academic institutions. The coalition is designed to allow states to share research and resources and make the region more competitive with other parts of the country in attracting jobs and investments.
All of these assets – a foundational automotive industry, evolved research capabilities, favorable geography and climate, growing prominence in technological innovation and robust state support for new companies locating to Ohio – position the state to become ground zero for advancing autonomous vehicle technology.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Social distancing is becoming the new normal, at least for those of us who are heeding the Center for Disease Control’s warnings and guidelines. But if you don’t have reliable, high-speed broadband, it is impossible to engage in what is now the world’s largest telecommunity. As many schools and universities around the world (including those of my kids) are shut down, these institutions are optimistically converting to online and digital learning. However, with our current broadband layout, this movement will certainly leave many Americans behind.
Accenture analysts recently released a report calling for cities to take the lead in creating coordinated, “orchestrated” mobility ecosystems. Limiting shared services to routes that connect people with mass transit would be one way to deploy human-driven services now and to prepare for driverless service in the future. Services and schedules can be linked at the backend, and operators can, for example, automatically send more shared vehicles to a train station when the train has more passengers than usual, or tell the shared vehicles to wait for a train that is running late.
Managing urban congestion and mobility comes down to the matter of managing space. Cities are characterized by defined and restricted residential, commercial, and transportation spaces. Private autos are the most inefficient use of transportation space, and mass transit represents the most efficient use of transportation space. Getting more people out of private cars, and into shared feeder routes to and from mass transit modes is the most promising way to reduce auto traffic. Computer models show that it can be done, and we don’t need autonomous vehicles to realize the benefits of shared mobility.
The role of government, and the planning community, is perhaps to facilitate these kinds of partnerships and make it easier for serendipity to occur. While many cities mandate a portion of the development budget toward art, this will not necessarily result in an ongoing benefit to the arts community as in most cases the budget is used for public art projects versus creating opportunities for cultural programming.
Rather than relying solely on this mandate, planners might want to consider educating developers with examples and case studies about the myriad ways that artists can participate in the development process. Likewise, outreach and education for the arts community about what role they can play in projects may stimulate a dialogue that can yield great results. In this sense, the planning community can be an invaluable translator in helping all parties to discover a richer, more inspiring, common language.