Portland says it wants to be the first city to issue permits for driverless cars, with the goal of getting them on its roads for testing this year.
Autonomous vehicles need to drive and drive and drive, vacuuming up hours of real-life encounters on the road to make their algorithms smarter and safer.
But there’s one thing in relative short supply: cities willing to have test cars on their streets. Portland is trying to change that and be what it says would be the first to issue permits for driverless vehicles, with the goal of getting them on its roads this year.
“The technology is coming,” says Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Either the technology will happen to us, or we are going to shape the playing field.”
Wheeler and Transportation Commissioner Dan Saltzman are directing the Portland Bureau of Transportation to create a policy to open up the city’s streets to self-driving cars.