In his continued push to make Arizona a preeminent destination for autonomous vehicle companies and technology, Gov. Doug Ducey was in Scottsdale, AZ, in October to announce the establishment of the Institute for Automated Mobility.
“This technology is here to stay, and our state, the state of Arizona, has chosen to embrace it,” Ducey said at the DesTechAZ technology conference on Oct. 11.
The institute, also called IAM, is a partnership of state agencies, Arizona’s three state universities and private corporations that is designed to “shape the future of transportation science, safety and policy,” Ducey said.
IAM’s founding partners include Intel, the state departments of Transportation and Public Safety, the Commerce Authority and the universities.
This is the next step in Ducey’s long-term effort to make Arizona the self-driving car capital of the U.S.
Arizona first allowed companies to begin testing their self-driving vehicles on Arizona roads in 2015. Since then, several major companies have located operations in the state, including Waymo, which has an operations center in Chandler.
Chandler also has modified some zoning regulations for future development to accommodate driverless technology.
Autonomous vehicle operations in Arizona are currently governed by regulations set forth by Ducey earlier this year.
The governor also has signed legislation allowing 200-pound automated “personal delivery devices’’ to operate at up to seven miles per hour on sidewalks.
Kirk Adams, the governor’s chief of staff, said it was not wrong to allow testing to occur here, even without answers to some of the questions his boss now wants the institute to resolve. He said it hasn’t been necessary until now to answer those questions.
Take the issue of liability.
A driverless vehicle that killed a pedestrian in Tempe was owned by Uber and had an Uber employee behind the wheel.
“The line of liability is very clear in that case,’’ Adams said.
The situation is different, he said, if sometime in the future an Arizonan could go to a car lot and buy a fully autonomous vehicle.
“It’s your vehicle; it’s titled in your name,’’ Adams said, but actually is being “driven’’ with technology created by the manufacturer and its suppliers. “Where does the liability go?’’