The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) launched a new statewide, multiagency initiative to develop a testing program for connected and automated vehicles. Gov. Bruce Rauner created the initiative with an executive order directing IDOT to oversee Illinois, a program aimed at advancing the state to the forefront in research on these emerging safety technologies.

“As the transportation hub for the entire country, Illinois is ideally situated to be a leader in the research of connected and automated vehicles,” Gov. Rauner said. “This technology is here and Illinois is ready to embrace it. Working with our public and private partners, we can make our roads safer, save lives, attract investment and create new high-tech jobs throughout the state.”

As part of the governor’s executive order, IDOT will oversee a testing program that requires a driver to remain behind the wheel, capable of taking control of the vehicle at all times.

Autonomous Illinois will connect communities interested in connected and automated vehicle testing with industry, universities, research institutions, and other technology partners. IDOT and other state agencies, including the Illinois State Police, Illinois Tollway, Department of Insurance, and Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, will assist with the program.

Autonomous Illinois will work with private industry as well to determine infrastructure, data, and support needs to further testing and implementation in Illinois.

To facilitate the dialogue, IDOT has created a new Autonomous Illinois web portal.

“This executive order is a step forward for the state of Illinois' advanced technologies sector, which will help create an environment that supports automated vehicle science, safety, and policy,” said Michael Daley, VP of Innova EV. “Today’s announcement demonstrates that Illinois will remain competitive in today’s innovative transportation industry.”

Connected and automated vehicles will generate an estimated $800 billion annually in economic benefits nationwide by 2050, which includes the creation of jobs, increased productivity for motorists, and fuel savings. They also will help reduce the number of crashes — 94% of which are caused by human error — that result in more than 1,000 deaths in Illinois and a negative economic impact of $14 billion a year, according to the most recent data.

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