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Autonomous car parking tests slated

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Testing of autonomous vehicle parking by the company STEER Tech, of Annapolis Junction, will soon begin later this month in the hourly garage at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and at a nearby commuter lot, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced.

Drivers in the testing area should continue to operate their vehicles safely and normally, and pedestrians should continue to observe caution and proceed safely as in any other environment. Additionally, MDOT Maryland Transit Administration will soon launch a pilot study to test the feasibility of self-parking cars at the Dorsey Run MARC Train Station.

In 2018, STEER evaluated its autonomous vehicle system in a closed course at BWI Marshall. During that initial phase of testing, there were zero accidents and no safety-critical disengagements. MDOT issued the first permits to STEER for testing at parking lots owned by MDOT in June 2017. New permits are for the current round of tests. The efforts place BWI Marshall on the global technology map as one of the first major airports to pilot autonomous vehicle technologies in public parking facilities.

In mixed-use testing at BWI Marshall, clearly-marked autonomous STEER cars will operate like regular vehicles around traditional driver-operated vehicles and pedestrians. STEER operators will remain in the vehicles during testing. Signage will be posted at the airport to indicate the specific testing locations. The Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) is offering a toll-free line, 1-855-727-5294, to address any questions or concerns about the Connected and Autonomous Vehicle testing.

MDOT MTA’s CAV pilot will be conducted in the Dorsey Run MARC Station parking lot and will test STEER’s Automated Valet Parking (AVP) technology. Transit customers who use large commuter parking lots will benefit from the AVP technology by allowing their cars to drive themselves to parking spaces, keeping commuters from having to walk long distances. AVP-equipped vehicles would also be able to drive themselves from their parking spots back to the station, where drivers would be waiting on the station platform.