Certain communities in the US have a history of being left behind by new, groundbreaking technologies. In certain, primarily rural, areas, consumers still need high-speed and reliable internet. While the tech industry continues to redefine what is possible, some communities manage to succeed with technology that is a decade behind the curve.
While advanced mobility and autonomous vehicle technology has expanded most significantly in traditional early-adopting areas like San Francisco, many industries have already seen the value of AV tech’s expansion nationally. For instance, autonomous trucks are changing the shape of the trucking industry and causing stakeholders to completely rethink current models.
However, some states, by virtue of their geographic location and economic background, have yet to see autonomous technology introduced in their own backyards. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt refuse to let their communities be left behind in the autonomous vehicle revolution.
In August, the two states announced an agreement to partner on transforming their region into a hub for advanced mobility. Through this partnership, Arkansas and Oklahoma hope to enhance capabilities and reinforce developments.
Previously, Arkansas has seen investment from Walmart into AV technologies that can handle last-mile delivery between storage and the marketplace. And in July, the University of Arkansas received a planning grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation to support its work on smart-mobility concerns. The university plans to focus on next-generation vehicles, including AVs, unmanned aerial mobility and artificial intelligence for smart mobility. Along with the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility, researchers and stakeholders hope this work will help propel the state to the forefront of innovation.
Nor will these developments be made in a vacuum. Oklahoma State University is hoping to help augment this work through the Helmerich Research Center, located on its Tulsa campus. There, the OSU College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology focuses its research on materials essential to advanced mobility technologies, and vital to the country’s security and supply chains.
This partnership, however, goes beyond educational institutions. Both states have also committed to coordinating economic development efforts through the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility and the Oklahoma Aerospace, Autonomous Systems and Defense Council. Together, Arkansas and Oklahoma are refusing to let AV technology pass them by and are working together to ensure their region takes advantage of new developments in this space.
Arkansas and Oklahoma are not alone in this endeavor. Autonomous vehicle and advanced mobility technology is continuing to mature and expand far beyond the areas where it first took root.
In South Carolina, Pittsburgh-based autonomous driving technology company Argo AI is partnering with Greenville’s International Transportation Innovation Center to launch operations at the South Carolina Technology & Aviation Center (SCTAC). Here, Argo AI can operate its vehicles at highway speeds. To the north, North Carolina State University researchers have created a new computational approach by which autonomous vehicles break down complex problems into sub-problems that are shared among different cores in the same computing system. Researchers believe this will allow AVs to navigate tricky situations without losing complexity.
Some might have assumed that the advancement of AV technology would be limited to areas traditionally known for early adoption. While San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Pittsburgh, Phoenix and Boston may have helped the technology find its legs, it can now assist every town and community as we move toward an autonomous future.