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TxDOT moves forward with autonomous vehicle task force

The department launched the task force two weeks ago to move forward with self-driving vehicles.

AUSTIN, Texas — As people spend more time in traffic, self-driving cars could become a more viable option.

TxDOT has a new task force to coordinate all connected and autonomous vehicle projects in the state.

Connected vehicles are cars with internet that can share data.

Waymo, a tech company, drove its first autonomous car in Austin in 2016. It has since moved to Phoenix. Meanwhile, Cap Metro stopped operating its self-driving shuttles downtown because of a new federal rule.

"Drive.ai” is a California company operating in Arlington and Frisco. TxDOT said other than that, there is no one they know what is operating autonomous vehicles.

This task force is meant to progress self-driving cars in Texas so it can be innovative.


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"There are a number of them that they are exploring,” said Darran Anderson, TxDOT director of strategy and innovation. “They're looking at the overall road network, either at a local level or on TxDOT's roads. But none of them have reached a point where they're ready to begin operating."

Safety, of course, is key. TxDOT said as a driver, you expect that from yourself, so that's the bar set for self-driving car companies.

TxDOT also has to consider the fact that autonomous cars could mean more cars on the road. However, self-driving cars could be shared among a family. 

And for cars to share data, there needs to be advanced cell and internet capability.

“We have been working with the telecoms on looking at initial pilot testing of 5G solutions,” said Anderson. “And how might those operate in our right of way, and what are the concerns in terms of coverage and spectrum interference, and all those kind of technical things that have to be working right before you can really trust their deployment.”

The department said they are working to coordinate meeting times for the task force to potentially coincide with the Texas legislature.

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