State of Ohio and the Ohio State University are funding the $45 million
Phase 1 expansion of the Transportation Research Center's (TRC) all-new
540-acre SMART (Smart Mobility Advanced Research and Test) Center – a
state-of-the-art hub for automated and autonomous testing, to be built
within the 4,500 acres of the nation's largest independent automotive
"Thanks to the support of the state of Ohio, Ohio Department of
Transportation, JobsOhio and The Ohio State University, the SMART Center
expansion provides the capabilities, facilities and support to enable
the development of future automated vehicles," said Mark-Tami Hotta,
CEO, TRC Inc. "TRC's SMART Center is designed to test new technologies
and highly automated vehicles in a closed, safe, secure and repeatable
real world environment, before the vehicles are deployed on public roads
"Smart mobility, with connected vehicles and enhanced infrastructures,
offers greater accessibility and mobility options, reduced road
congestion and more efficient use of natural resources," said Hotta.
Phase 1 of the expansion will include a flexible platform and
infrastructure; the industry's largest high-speed intersection; the
industry's longest and most flexible test platform (a space the width of
more than 50 highway lanes and the length of 10 football fields
end-to-end); an urban network of intersections, roundabouts, traffic
signals; a rural network including wooded roads, neighborhood network
and a SMART Center support building.
"There's been an explosion of demand for active safety and autonomous
testing around the world, and TRC's SMART Center is committed to
providing a comprehensive solution to that demand," said Hotta. "As the
largest independent vehicle test facility and proving grounds in North
America, with more than 1,000 customers worldwide, we're experts in
testing and validating vehicles. We want to provide the industry and
government regulatory agencies every test and infrastructure needed to
make automated and autonomous vehicles safe for public roads, as we have
been doing for the last 40 years."
"We have visited virtually every other active safety and autonomous
vehicle test facility around the world, talked with dozens of customers,
and are partnering with many others in this space so that we can best
serve the needs of everyone regarding creating safer vehicles, safer
drivers, and safer roads," Hotta added.
TRC has been testing different types of vehicles – cars, trucks, buses,
ATVs, military vehicles and virtually every kind of specialty vehicle –
and components on its 4,500-acre facility in East Liberty, Ohio for more
than 40 years, including testing automated and autonomous vehicles over
the last two decades. According to Hotta, there are three main reasons
to expand on TRC's proving grounds and the establishment of the SMART
First, to support Columbus's $140 million US Department of
Transportation (USDOT) Smart City project. TRC provides a convenient
location to safely test new technologies before their use on city
streets and highways.
TRC is the home of the only federal vehicle research and test laboratory
for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA
issued its first directives on autonomous vehicle operation last
September, and will need more track time to develop further guidelines
for the industry.
Third, TRC's SMART Center is designed to enable car manufacturers and
suppliers to expand their automated and autonomous testing where the
guidelines are being developed.
TRC's SMART Center will be the only independent facility of its kind
that is a part of a comprehensive one-stop test facility all vehicle
test and development can be efficiently performed at one location.
Funding efforts are underway for Phases 2 and 3 of the SMART Center
expansion. Phase 2 will focus on the world's first indoor test facility,
which will allow for severe weather conditions, such as snow, ice, fog
and freezing rain, to be available on-demand, year-round, to enable
rigorous testing of highly automated vehicles in severe operating
conditions. Phase 3 will include a six-lane high-speed highway, with on
and off ramps and underpasses, to support the testing of vehicle
swarming and truck platooning.