Oakland County wants companies to develop autonomous vehicle network pilot program

Oakland County is seeking bids from providers who have the ability to plan, build, deploy and maintain a pilot connected autonomous vehicle network that would ultimately make driving safer at no cost to taxpayers.

The first-of-its-kind request for proposal was issued last week by Oakland County, with support from the Road Commission for Oakland County. It challenges interested providers – either individually or as a collaboration – to present a system including signals, equipment, and software. The system would enhance traffic safety by sending instantaneous electronic messages to vehicles, warning motorists of potentially dangerous driving situations such as a vehicle running a red light or stop sign or dangerous road conditions ahead.

“Just over three years ago I charged a group of industry experts to find a way for Oakland County to lead the world in connected mobility and the solution sought in the request for proposal does exactly that,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “This is a game-changer that potentially makes our roads safer for everyone.”

Patterson created the Oakland County Connected Vehicle Task Force to make recommendations on how to deploy the world’s first countywide connected mobility system. Connected vehicles are able to transmit data about the vehicle and its location to other vehicles and to road infrastructure.

The 16-page request for proposal spells out in detail what is required of potential bidders. It challenges interested providers to create a system of dedicated short-range communication that can be easily adopted throughout the United States and other jurisdictions. Oakland County has more than 5,600 miles of roadway and 2,000 intersections that would use the system.

“We’re seeking to provide an important safety function in a way that is self-supporting,” said Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb, who oversees the task force. “The system should pay for itself and we won’t have to ask taxpayers to foot the bill. The findings of the task force over three years of work lead us to believe this can be done. The request for proposal seeks to bring in companies to prove it in a live environment.”

Gibb said other states are testing basic systems such as Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Florida but that the majority of the research and development in the autonomous and connected mobility is being conducted in Oakland County. The advantage allows Oakland County to go beyond safety to the business model outlined in the request for proposal.

“With nearly 75 percent of the automobile industry having research and development operations in Oakland County, this initiative is vital not only for health and public safety but the automotive industry sustainability as we move forward in the next generation,” Gibb said. “We must have a business plan that gives the multitude of great companies doing this important work in Oakland County a place to flourish.”

A pre-proposal conference is set for Dec. 11 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and will be held in the Oakland County Executive Office Building West Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford. Attendance is not mandatory but bidders interested in submitting a proposal are encouraged to attend to review, discuss or clarify any issues before submitting a proposal.

The deadline to submit a proposal is Jan. 9, 2018, at 2 p.m. Potential bidders with questions about the request for proposal should contact Scott Guzzy of the county’s Purchasing Division at 248-858-5484 or guzzys@oakgov.com.

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