At U.S. Department of Transportation, Portman Praises Award of Autonomous Driving Systems Grant to Ohio Researchers

September 19, 2019 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) delivered remarks at a bipartisan press conference at the U.S. Department of Transportation with Secretary Elaine Chao announcing the federal grant awards to study autonomous driving systems (ADS), including $7.5 million for the state of Ohio and university groups. The ADS Demonstration grant will be allocated to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and its consortium, which includes the Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC), The Ohio State University, and DriveOhio.

Below are photos and a transcript of remarks Portman delivered to the gathered audience:

“Wow, this is fantastic it’s a beautiful day here in Washington and all of the demonstrations and the wonderful research the DOT is doing is being showcased.  I love the karma vehicle platform, who couldn’t love something called karma?  You know, we need a little more karma around here.  And good karma.  But I want to, today, pay special tribute to our Secretary, because of her vision and her personal commitment to keeping America on the cutting-edge in terms of autonomous vehicles in particular, and new technology and innovation more broadly.  I appreciate that.  Coming from Ohio it’s very important.  You know, we’re a big car state, I’m co-chair of the Auto Caucus in the Senate for that reason.  But this, it takes a push, doesn’t it?  And it takes a commitment from the top, and I want to thank her for that.  Of course I also want to thank her for caring about safety and as part of innovation understanding that many of our constituents are concerned about that.  They’re concerned about privacy and confidentiality.  So those are things that we have to resolve if we’re going to make progress moving forward, but keeping our great country on the cutting edge is really important, and thanks to her leadership and thanks to what all of the folks here at DOT are doing, I think we are in a good position. 

“We’re also in a good position because DOT isn’t afraid to look outside the beltway, are they?  And that’s what we’re seeing today.  So this $60 million, including $7.5 million dollars wisely going to the state of Ohio, will help ensure we’re getting the best from the country, from academia, from our nonprofits, from our industry.  All the answers aren’t here in Washington DC, and again, the Secretary and DOT recognize that.  I want to thank her for coming to the Transportation Research Center, early in her tenure as secretary, and the Transportation Research Center is one of our recipients of the award today.  It also includes, as was mentioned the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio State University, Drive Ohio, so it’s a collaboration, and when I talked to Secretary Chao about our application and how we might do in this, and she emphasized collaboration and partnership.  And that’s exactly what we did in Ohio, and I want to thank all of my colleagues from Ohio who are here who were part of that effort.  This is exciting.  This new round of funding will make a huge difference, for our state of Ohio and for our country.  To move us forward so that we can indeed take advantage of the promise of innovation and autonomous vehicles in particular.  And I’m just delighted to be here, and to be in this setting with all of you on this beautiful day.  Thank you, very much.”

NOTE: On March 21, 2019, Portman, Brown, and the entire Ohio delegation – including Reps. Troy Balderson (R-OH), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Warren Davidson (R-OH), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Jim Jordan (R-OH), David Joyce (R-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Bob Latta (R-OH), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Mike Turner (R-OH), and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) – sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in support of ODOT’s application for this grant.  

On August 28, Portman visited TRC – the largest and most sophisticated independent vehicle proving ground in North America – where he saw firsthand how TRC Ohio has become a global leader in advancing new automotive technologies.  In 2018, Portman and the Ohio delegation successfully worked with Secretary Chao to change the Obama administration’s automated vehicle policy, which would have placed Ohio TRC at a competitive disadvantage for certain partnership and funding opportunities that are important to the development of safe and effective regulations for this emerging technology.