Organizations, lawmakers continue working for autonomous vehicle test funding
Cliff Mesner owns a Tesla Model X, an electric car with autonomous vehicle capabilities.
"It has 360 surveillance around it, it sees everything that's going on," Mesner said. "It has no blind spots, it reacts faster to traffic than we can react to traffic."
He was one of dozens who attended an autonomous vehicle conference Wednesday night.
The event was hosted by NEAVA, an organization working toward bringing autonomous vehicles to Nebraska.
NEAVA director H. P. Singh said these vehicles would improve safety.
He said he understands why some may be uneasy about having such vehicles on the road.
"Just like anything that comes along, it takes awhile to get used to and eventually people realize it's an improvement in their life," Singh said.
Sen. Anna Wishart sponsored the bill that made it possible to test autonomous vehicles in Nebraska. She said 90 percent of vehicle deaths are caused by human error and that autonomous vehicles would eliminate that.
Wishart said she will introduce legislation for grants that would fund research for smart technology for Omaha and Lincoln, including autonomous vehicle testing.
But the city of Lincoln is also working on its own federal BUILD grant.
"It's $5 million and that would allow us to fund up to 10 AV shuttles in downtown Lincoln and fully deploy a program over 3 years," said Transportation and Utilities Director Miki Esposito.
Esposito said they hope to hear by the end of the year whether they'll get it.