USU administrator supports HB 101, autonomous vehicle bill

In this Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, photo, Nissan Motor Co.'s staff member gets his hands off of the steering wheel of its Easy Ride robo-vehicle during a test ride on a course in Yokohama, near Tokyo. Starting next month, Nissan is testing on regular roads what it calls “a robo-vehicle mobility service.” Called Easy Ride, it uses a cell-phone app to book semi-autonomous driven rides. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

HB 101, a bill allowing fully-autonomous vehicles to operate in Utah, has advanced through the House and Senate and now waits Governor Herbert’s signature.

Sachin Pavithran is policy director for Utah State University’s Persons With Disabilities. He believes the Governor will sign it into law because it will bring Utah to the forefront of tech innovation.

This undated conceptual drawing provided by The Boring Company shows a high-occupancy Autonomous Electric Vehicle (AEV) that would run in a tunnel between exhibition halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center proposed for Las Vegas. Entrepreneur Elon Musk’s dream of a tunnel transit system may finally become a reality in Las Vegas. Tourism officials in Sin City announced Wednesday, March 6, 2019, they might soon grant him a contract to build and operate a mile-and-a-quarter-long project with autonomous electric vehicles to move people around a mega convention center. (The Boring Company via AP)

“A lot of this testing is happening in places like Phoenix and California, different parts of California,” said Pavithran. “Utah’s got unique terrain with weather and elevation, climate within our canyons, and everything. This is the ideal place to do all the testing you can think of, for safety and everything else.”

Pavithran, who is blind, said having fully-autonomous vehicles available in Utah has important implications for people with disabilities, many of whom struggle with transportation issues every day.

He chairs the National Federation for the Blind’s Autonomous Vehicle and Innovations in Transportation Committee.

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