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Image credit: Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Ohio approves self-driving car tests on public roads

There are a few strings attached.
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Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Expect to see driverless cars roaming around the Buckeye State in the near future. Ohio Governor John Kasich has issued an executive order permitting self-driving car tests on public roads, adding to a small but growing list of autonomous-friendly states that includes Arizona, California and Michigan. There are conditions, of course, although they're not extremely strict at first glance.

Every vehicle will need a human operator from the company performing the tests and reporting any accidents. Every hopeful firm will also have to register with DriveOhio, a central hub for mobility initiatives (conveniently established by Kasich in January) that will collect information on both the cars and their testing locations.

The order simultaneously creates a voluntary Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program that helps local governments work with car and tech companies. Naturally, cities can partner with DriveOhio to create an "inventory" of test areas.

Ohio's move comes while the memory of Uber's fatal Arizona crash is still fresh, and it's bound to raise questions about the timing as a result. Ohio is no stranger to limited self-driving tests, though, so this expansion was more a matter of "when" than "if." The main challenge is attracting customers. Other states can point to local companies (such as Tesla or Ford) or ideal weather (like Arizona). Ohio may face a tougher battle convincing these firms to pay a visit.

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