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New England states furthering autonomous vehicle testing
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New England states furthering autonomous vehicle testing

In the past, when we talked about autonomous vehicles, most of the testing was happening someplace else - California or Arizona, maybe. But what happens when testing comes to your neighborhood? That's actually about to happen sooner rather than later. Here's a rundown of New England state initiatives.

Massachusetts - In June, Massachusetts took the leap: Gov. Charlie Baker and several local officials signed an agreement for autonomous vehicle testing:

"The new MOU [Memo of Understanding] streamlines and standardizes the process for companies seeking to test Autonomous Vehicles on Massachusetts roadways. Following the signing of this MOU, MassDOT and the participating communities will finalize a universal application for companies to use when seeking to test Autonomous Vehicles and the participating municipalities will identify locations and roadways suitable for Autonomous Vehicle testing.

The municipalities signing the MOU today include Arlington, Boston, Braintree, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Medford, Melrose, Newton, Revere, Somerville, Weymouth, Winthrop, and Worcester. In addition, the Department of Conservation and Recreation is joining the MOU in order to make Commonwealth-owned parkways available for the testing of Autonomous Vehicles."

Connecticut - Gov. Malloy Announces Launch of State’s Fully Autonomous Vehicle Testing Pilot Program. The state incited interested municipalities to submit applications to participate in the testing initiative.

New Hampshire - Earlier this month, Gov. Sununu vetoed a bill to allow autonomous vehicle testing, a decision that was not without opposition - see N.H. Roadmap Lacks Lane for Driverless Cars.

Rhode Island - DoT Looks to Spur Autonomous Transit Development. The Department of Transportation has issued an RFP to develop an autonomous shuttle pilot program in the Providence region.

Maine - In January, the state formed an autonomous vehicle advisory committee. As in many states, there are currently no state laws in place to regulate the operation of automated motor vehicles.

Vermont - As of January, Vermont hadn't taken any steps to prepare for driverless cars - one of about 20 such states - but the Vermont Agency of Transportation, VTtrans, is studying other state efforts and how to set up a regulatory framework.

To follow progress in these and other states, see the Autonomous Vehicles - Self-Driving Vehicles Enacted Legislation list maintained by the National Conference of State Legislators.

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