Portland announces Smart Autonomous Vehicles Initiative, aims opening its streets for testing of autonomous cars

21 April, 2017

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioner Dan Saltzman have announced the Smart Autonomous Vehicles Initiative (SAVI). With this initiative, they directed the Portland Bureau of Transportation to develop autonomous vehicle policies and solicit proposals from companies that would test autonomous vehicles on Portland streets by the end of the year.

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At the Portland Business Alliance’s April Forum Breakfast: “The Road to Autonomous Vehicles,” sponsored by Portland General Electric, Wheeler made the announcement. At a news conference after the breakfast, Wheeler and Saltzman signed a directive telling Leah Treat, director of PBOT, to launch the initiative.

The directive tells PBOT to take four actions to advance SAVI within the next 60 days:

1.    Propose for City Council and public consideration Interim Transportation System Plan (TSP) policies that ensure connected and autonomous vehicles will serve Portland’s safety, equity, climate change, and economic goals;

2.    Publish a Request for Information (RFI) that invites AV testing specific to advancing safety, equity, climate, and economic goals;

3.    Adopt an Interim Administrative Rule that provides a clear path to permit innovators to apply to test, pilot or deploy AVs in Portland; and

4.    Develop public engagement, reporting, and evaluation plans that ensure Portland residents, workers, and businesses have opportunities to shape the “rules of the road” for AVs in Portland.

Portland General Electric, the largest electric utility in the metropolitan area, said the initiative could help grow the local economy and reduce emissions with electric vehicles.

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