Fairlawn on ground floor of driver-less car testing in Ohio

City-owned, state-of-the-art fiber network key to being only city in Northeast Ohio in program
Published: Jan. 3, 2019 at 10:52 PM EST
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FAIRLAWN, OH (WOIO) - By the summer you may actually see a driver-less car rolling down West Market Street in Fairlawn.

The Summit County suburb is in prime position as one of only six cities in the state -- the other five are in Columbus -- to be picked as test cities for driver-less cars,

“I think the fear that’s out there comes from wondering who is going to manage this, so we’re helping figure out how this will be managed by allowing testing on our roads,” Fairlawn Service Director Ernie Staten said.

Staten was a key member of the process when Fairlawn city leaders decided to build a state-of-the-art fiber network, and now that decision has paid off. Fiber networks, which transport data at the speed of light, are needed to operate smart cars safely through city streets.

Wireless access ports have been built onto traffic signal poles and soon nodes, which gather and transfer information to and from smart cars, will be buried along road.

“We’re not going to test in a situation where we just turn them loose on the road, we’re going to let the public know the testing is going on,” Staten said.

The city is considering using electronic message boards to make drivers aware testing is underway, and police and fire in Fairlawn will be involved in the process, “They will be at the table just like I am, talking to the state of Ohio or the car manufacturers," Staten said.

The state of Ohio and the car manufacturers hold the liability during testing.

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