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Ossoff touts Augusta’s work on autonomous vehicles



AUGUSTA, Ga. – During a Senate Banking Committee hearing on increased investments in public transit infrastructure, Sen. Jon Ossoff touted Augusta’s progress in producing autonomous vehicles as a model for the nation.

The Georgia Democrat outlined conversations he’s had with Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis Jr. to build capacity for the project.

The Banking Committee held the hearing Thursday as the Senate is beginning to work on a major infrastructure bill that could bring massive investments for public transit and transportation projects to cities like Augusta.

Ossoff asked Beth Osborne, the director of Transportation of America, how Augusta’s work on autonomous vehicle development could contribute to the quality of life and transit technology in the next few years in Georgia and across the country.

Osborne said with cities like Augusta leading the way, we can better prepare and build infrastructure geared toward taking advantage of this new technology.

Here’s the exchange:

OSSOFF: “Ms. Osborn, I’m working with Mayor Davis in Augusta, Georgia, which hosts the Cyber Center and has a growing high tech industry, to expand autonomous vehicle development capacity, possibly including the development of a testing center in or around Augusta for autonomous vehicles. Can you discuss how Augusta and its work on autonomous vehicle development could contribute to the quality of life and transit opportunities and technologies over the next few years in Georgia and across the country?”

OSBORNE: “I’m happy to. My lens towards transportation is much more about the policy that governs how any mode or any technology of transportation moves through it. The more we build the multimodal system, multimodal roadways, the better things like autonomous vehicles will work, the better transit will work, then more easily people will be able to walk and bike to that transit and to their opportunity. Unfortunately, I think in our current policy environment, these technologies will be somewhat squandered. So I’m hoping to see places like Augusta and my friends in Pittsburgh who are heavily involved in autonomous vehicles, look at how the design of our transportation system and particularly our roadways interferes with the deployment of a AV’s because I think we’ll find that the same things that interfere with AV testing and movement is what’s making our current system with old fashioned people, drivers less efficient and less safe, as well.”