Gov. Kasich Launches DriveOhio with Executive Order

Sunbury News Staff Report

Gov. John R. Kasich made DriveOhio official Jan. 18 with an executive order establishing it as a one-stop shop for researchers, developers and manufacturers to collaborate on autonomous and connected vehicle initiatives in Ohio.

Housed within the Ohio Department of Transportation, DriveOhio is a partnership between ODOT, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Administrative Services, the Ohio Turnpike Infrastructure Commission, the Public Utilities Commissions of Ohio, the Department of Insurance, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation and the Ohio Adjutant General’s Department.

“Gov. Kasich is to be commended for his vision of a state that attracts and develops innovation in an increasingly important industry,” said ODOT Director Jerry Wray. “DriveOhio represents the future of smart mobility and positions Ohio as a key leader.”

Ohio is an increasingly important player in smart mobility technologies needed for the nation’s growing autonomous and connected vehicles industry. While DriveOhio is new, Ohio has already made a mark within the industry with key projects including:

  • U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor, one of the country’s longest highways ready for autonomous and connected driving
  • “Smart Columbus,” winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge
  • I-90 Lake Effect Corridor, a stretch of I-90 that will enable connectivity to monitor driving conditions in lake-effect snow
  • Ohio Turnpike, a 241-mile, four-lane test bed for autonomous and connected vehicles
  • I-670 Smart Lane, a project using a shoulder to create a “smart lane” during peak traffic times

Gov. Kasich’s order brings together those responsible for building transportation infrastructure with those who are developing advanced mobility technologies. It provides a statewide, single point of entry for companies and innovators to test and build smart mobility technologies collaboratively. It establishes an infrastructure for developing and establishing statewide standards and strategic recommendations concerning the types and use of technology for deployment as well as their financing. And it provides a coordination point with the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, the Department of Higher Education, and the Department of Job and Family Services on industry-related job creation.

“The time is right,” Wray said. “Innovation and advancements in technologies are disrupting every industry and creating opportunities for Ohio that we cannot afford to let pass. Ohio already is deeply involved in the research and development of automotive technologies and systems, smart mobility, vehicle autonomy and sensors. DriveOhio gives us a structure to move forward with unprecedented intention and speed.”

Jim Barna, currently chief engineer and assistant director of engineer policy for ODOT, will leave that role to lead DriveOhio as its executive director. Barna has worked at ODOT for more than 22 years and as a civil engineer for more than 28 years.


COLUMBUS — Gov. John R. Kasich signed an executive order creating a one-stop shop that will make it easier for researchers to advance connected and autonomous vehicle technologies. The new center, DriveOhio, will bring together those responsible for building infrastructure in Ohio with those who are developing new transportation technologies to better coordinate efforts and connect transportation providers with automotive and equipment manufacturers.

“Just as the Wright Brothers gave birth to flight here in Ohio, we are positioning the state to lead on developing the vehicles, highways and smart transportation technologies of the future,” said Kasich. “Our goal is to make Ohio the premiere destination for researchers, developers and manufacturers to test, build and deploy advanced mobility solutions that will make our roads safer and less congested.”

Initially, DriveOhio will be housed within the Ohio Department of Transportation.

In order to ensure the center is meeting the needs and keeping up with innovations in the industry, an expert advisory board will be created. The board will include leaders in the automotive, telecommunications, software development, insurance, data, cyber security industries, as well as researchers and developers, among others.

As a first step, the department issued a Request for Proposals this week asking teams of engineering, technology and data companies to compete for a contract to develop a statewide technology and data framework for its smart mobility initiative. The executive order also calls upon the Department of Transportation to begin outfitting its fleet vehicles with devices that that can start tracking data that will be beneficial to advancing connected-vehicle research.

Last year, Ohio announced the creation of new smart highway projects to complement its transportation research corridors along the Ohio Turnpike and a 35-mile stretch of U.S. 33 in central Ohio. Portions of Interstate 670 in Columbus and Interstate 90 in northeast Ohio are being outfitted with advanced technologies aimed at helping innovators refine systems for connected and autonomous vehicles.

Ohio’s transportation budget signed by the governor in 2017, together with commitments from the federal government and other partners, is investing $45 million for expanded research capabilities at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty – North America’s most advanced independent automotive test facility and an ideal environment for autonomous vehicle and smart highway research.

Sunbury News Staff Report