Car Industry

Institute for Automated Mobility offers AV research, testing space in Arizona

It's a major project with both public- and private-sector partners, including Intel.

Intel

Developing an autonomous vehicle is much more than figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B without a driver. Some of the development you might not think about -- how to react to emergency vehicles, for example -- takes place at sites dedicated to this kind of research, like Mcity in Michigan. And soon, there'll be a similar research and development center in Arizona.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced today that he has signed an executive order creating the Institute for Automated Mobility (IAM). It will be a sprawling research-and-development center that will allow companies to focus on solving problems related to creating autonomous vehicles. The problems will focus on the liability and regulatory side of things -- the stuff that the public rarely thinks about.

This is a huge undertaking, and both public and private groups have signed on. Intel announced that it's the first major private partner, and a number of public institutions will chip in, too, including the Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Department of Transportation and the state's three major universities -- the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State.

"The Institute for Automated Mobility will bring together global industry leaders, a public sector team and the brightest minds in academia, focused on advancing all aspects of automated vehicle science, safety and policy," Governor Ducey said in a statement. "Arizona is committed to providing the leadership and knowledge necessary to integrate these technologies into the world's transportation systems."

Having Intel as the first private-sector partner is a big deal, considering just how much effort its Mobileye subsidiary has put into autonomy so far.

Intel

While IAM obviously hasn't been built yet, here's an idea of how it will function. Arizona's Commerce Authority will oversee the whole operation, while its academic partners will focus on researching and publishing papers on the topics IAM is established to address, including things like safety standards and crash liability. Arizona's Department of Public Safety will create a traffic incident management center that will focus on getting emergency services involved in the solutions IAM hopes to develop.

Intel and its subsidiary Mobileye, which it acquired in 2017, also have an important role. The two will offer up their Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) system for use in academic research. RSS is a unique system that acknowledges that autonomous cars will coexist with human drivers and, thus, must at least attempt to mimic some human behavior. We took it for a ride around Jerusalem earlier this year, and it offered some surprisingly human driving habits. It's a different way to approach the issue compared with Waymo's AV system, which some Arizona residents have lambasted for acting like too much of a goody two-shoes.

When it's complete, IAM will have both simulation labs and real-world recreations meant to mimic all types of things AVs might experience on the road. There will be multiple route configurations, a bunch of intersections, traffic signs, traffic signals and just about everything you'd find on a regular stretch of road. A fact sheet from Intel hints at two such test tracks, occupying about 110 acres and offering up about 2.5 miles of roadway.

Of course, things could very well change between now and when it opens, but IAM looks very promising for both academics and AV companies that want to set up shop in a hotbed of AV activity.

RSS: How Intel and Mobileye are taking a simpler path to autonomy.

Castle: Take a look at Waymo's personal AV playground, also in Arizona.