Maryland DOT seeks approval for testing autonomous vehicles on I-95

Updated Dec 29, 2016

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation seeking approval to designate part of Interstate 95 as a future automated vehicle (AV) testing and deployment area.

avtThe proposal asks to make the designation for I-95 from Aberdeen Proving Ground to the Fort Meade/University of Maryland region. It includes “multiple public roadways,” the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore, Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Marshall), and existing public/private research and testing facilities in the area.

“The I-95 Corridor in Maryland is the ideal one-stop-shop for real-world testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles,” said Transportation Secretary Rahn.  “This corridor is strategically positioned along the thriving east coast and combines a wealth of existing facilities, along with unique testing opportunities at the Port of Baltimore and BWI Airport.”

Maryland’s proposal would use the existing development, testing, partnerships and investments in AV technology along the I-95 corridor and includes:

  • Existing facilities already developing and testing AV technologies, including Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, the Center for Entrepreneurship in Howard County, and the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory in Prince George’s County;
  • MDOT-owned facilities to provide future simulated and real-world testing environments, including the electronic toll lanes along I-95, the Port of Baltimore for freight operations, and BWI Marshall for passenger shuttle transportation; and
  • Private-sector companies already planning development and manufacturing of AV components within the next two years.

If approved, testing could start as early as Jan. 1, 2018, MDOT reports, providing the designated facilities are ready at that time.

“We are in the process of developing clear policies and procedures for companies eager to test AV technologies on public roads in Maryland,” says Christine E. Nizer, MDOT’s Motor Vehicle Administrator and Chair of the Maryland Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Working Group. “Self-driving vehicles have the potential to transform how we live and work, and while we are open for business and eager to realize the life-saving and economic benefits of this innovative technology, we will always ensure safety comes first.”

The application is available here and follows recommendations of the Maryland Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Working Group, from December 2015.