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Image credit: Natalie Behring / Reuters

Arizona is creating an autonomous vehicle research institute

Intel is an early partner.
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Natalie Behring / Reuters

Arizona, a state that has been quite open to self-driving technology, has now created the Institute for Automated Mobility (IAM), a consortium focused on autonomous vehicle research, safety and policy. Overseen by the Arizona Commerce Authority, IAM brings together the state's transportation and public safety departments, private industry and three state universities, which will work to develop industry standards and best practices in regards to self-driving technology.

"The Institute for Automated Mobility will bring together global industry leaders, a public sector team and the brightest minds in academia, focused on advancing all aspects of automated vehicle science, safety and policy," Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement. "Arizona is committed to providing the leadership and knowledge necessary to integrate these technologies into the world's transportation systems."

Once completed, IAM will include research facilities, simulation labs and a safety test track that can accomodate different road and traffic configurations. Researchers will explore a number of topics related to autonomous technology, such as safety, accident liability and compensation models. And a Traffic Incident Management center will "integrate law enforcement and first responders with automated vehicle technologies unlike any other location in the country," according to the Arizona Commerce Authority.

Intel is the first private industry partner and will contribute its Responsibility Sensitive Safety model to the consortium. The company describes it as an "open, transparent and technology-neutral starting point" for the industry in regards to autonomous vehicle safety. Basically, it's an algorithm that lays out safety rules for self-driving vehicles and helps ensure these cars make the safest decisions as they operate.

Arizona has played host to multiple companies working on self-driving technology, including Uber, Waymo, Intel and GM. Earlier this year, an autonomous Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, stoking safety concerns regarding the technology.

"Automated vehicle technologies have incredible potential to improve transportation safety and efficiency, saving lives, time and money," said Arizona Commerce Authority President Sandra Watson. "IAM will conduct groundbreaking industry-led research and development supporting the establishment of uniform standards and smart policy around these technologies."

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