San Diego, US is preparing
In 1997, the San Diego region gave the world its first look at what a self-driving future might look like. That’s when a series of tests called Demo 97 marked the culmination of a 4-year federally-funded effort to prove the technical feasibility of automated highways. The $650 million project ultimately failed to spur a wider public effort, but helped spark further efforts that would lead directly to the autonomous driving breakthroughs of the mid-2000s.
Today, San Diego is once again playing an important role in automated transportation systems innovation, winning designation as one of ten Autonomous Vehicle Proving Grounds by the U.S. Department of Transportation in January 2017. The San Diego proving ground is a partnership between the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), a regional planning organization; Caltrans (the state transportation agency); and the city of Chula Vista (pop. 267,172). Three test zones are proposed: a 20-mile segment of I-15 (the same used in 1997), 10 miles of the South Bay Expressway, and city streets in Chula Vista, which passed a resolution in June to allow AV testing.
In October 2017, the triumvirate held its first Proving Ground planning meeting, which was attended by more than 40 organizations.