The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) is launching the Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing Initiative (AV TEST Initiative) this week.

It is hosting a series of virtual "kickoff" events aimed at raising awareness of Automated Driving Systems (ADS) development and testing activities, and facilitating greater public understanding around activities that support safe development and on road testing of prototype ADS in the US. 

USDOT said, in addition to engaging with stakeholders and the public, the initiative aims to increase transparency by providing an online, public facing platform for sharing automated driving system on road testing activities and other pertinent information with the public.

Online mapping tools will eventually show testing locations at the local, state, and national levels, as well as testing activity data, such as vehicle types and uses, dates, frequency, vehicle counts, and routes.

An event on Monday (15 June) featured opening remarks from USDOT secretary Elaine Chao, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration deputy administrator James Owens, Federal Highway Administration administrator Nicole Nason and USDOT deputy assistant secretary for Transportation Policy Finch Fulton.

The discussion included heads of private sector organisations focused on different use cases of ADS, including developers, testing companies, passenger-less delivery and other innovative companies.

Topics included a discussion of opportunities and challenges in safe on road testing, design for inclusivity and emerging technology used among industry stakeholders.

A discussion on Thursday will include perspectives from leaders in industry, academia, and government to gain a broad overview for the need, role, and history of on road testing of automotive technology and specifically in the ongoing development of ADS toward eventual safe deployment.

Topics will include the current state of development and prototype testing in the US with a focus on technical progress achieved to date, key remaining challenges, and activity under way.

Attendees include representatives of GM's Cruise, Uber, Alphabet's Waymo, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota, along with the states of California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.