IEDC on the Driverless Car and Its Possible Future Home

If you recently woke up from a long coma, you may want to sit down. Driverless cars now roam the streets of Pittsburgh (Bloomberg). Ride-hailing company Uber is using autonomous vehicles to transport riders across the city (with a human in the driver’s seat just in case).

Why Pittsburgh – a city better known for steel and Mr. Rogers? Home to Carnegie Mellon University and its world-renowned robotics department, Pittsburgh possessed the vital brain power to make the project a success (Chicago Tribune). (As well, the city’s notoriously hilly topography, its plethora of bridges, and snowy winters will allow for testing in hazardous conditions.)

As the technology progresses, cities and states are positioning themselves as the next home for the nascent industry by playing up their competitive advantages. While Silicon Valley arguably holds the advantage, Nevada, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia, and Arizona all have skin in the game (GovTech).

Not to be outdone, Michigan, seeking to remain on the cutting edge of the automotive industry, is throwing its resources behind the American Center for Mobility, a driverless-car testing ground in the college town of Ypsilanti (GovTech). The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has invested $17 million in the project. The ACM is complemented by other Michigan testing facilities, including the 32-acre “ghost town” known as M City at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Google’s facility in Novi, and General Motors’ laboratory in Warren.

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