Illinois launches pilot program for autonomous vehicles

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Self-driving vehicles will soon be on Illinois roads.

A pilot program called Autonomous Illinois is currently testing, and a driver must be behind the wheel during the testing phase. The program is a partnership between the state and private companies.

An electric car service called Dash is now available in Bronzeville for seniors, and west suburban Itasca.

The cars are used for short trips, like a mile or two, and cost about $1.50 one-way.

"How do I get you from the train station to work or home - that last mile, last mile and a half? We've identified that as a problem and developed a solution to address those things," said CEO Roman Kuropas, Innova EV.

For now, Dash cars operate like Lyft or Uber and have drivers behind the wheel. But, looking ahead, the company sees a driverless future, saturating neighborhoods everywhere, including Chicago, because a trip to the store isn't easy for everyone.

"Taking the transit, food and pharmacy deserts that are in our major cities and under-served communities and providing people access to those needs," Kuropas said.

State transportation officials and companies focusing on self-driving technology announced a new partnership to test automated vehicles in Illinois.

"It sends a signal to the rest of the world that Illinois is officially open for business in the area of connected and automated vehicles," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn.

Thursday's announcement also focused on expressways throughout the state and improving safety. In 2017, the Illinois Department of Transportation reported that 1,090 people died in crashes. They want automation to improve that fact.

"This automation is all about creating safer and more efficient mobility for everyone and everything," said Jerry Quandt, Illinois Autonomous Vehicles Association.

Click here for more information about autonomous vehicle testing and programs in Illinois.
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