After meeting with transportation leaders from around the nation today, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero announced plans to establish a working group of city staff as well as public and private regional partners to look into the city becoming America’s newest testbed for connected and autonomous vehicles.
The meeting, which took place at traffic technology company GRIDSMART’s world headquarters in Knoxville included Bill Malkes, CEO and co-Founder of GRIDSMART; Paul Brubaker, president and CEO of The Alliance for Transportation Innovation; Carlos Braceras, director of the Utah Department of Transportation; Randy Iwasaki, executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority; and Regina Hopper, president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.
Citing the region’s four-season climate, hills and flat terrain, and the existing technology corridor, Mayor Rogero said Knoxville’s assets make the city a perfect candidate for testing transportation technologies. “Between technological innovators like GRIDSMART, the research resources at UT and ORNL and our regional automotive manufacturers, Knoxville is a natural place for a connected-vehicle test bed," Mayor Rogero said in a release. "We are excited by the possibilities and will be exploring ways to put our region at the forefront of intelligent transportation development.”
During the exploratory meeting, the group considered the opportunity as well as potential barriers to success, ultimately deciding the idea warrants deeper consideration. GRIDSMART CEO Bill Malkes raised the potential for this idea to generate a new economy for the Knoxville region.