Illinois Transportation Chief: Self-Driving Technology Is The Future

October 25, 2018 - 4:06 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The state is encouraging companies to develop and test self-driving vehicles in Illinois, an effort called Autonomous Illinois. 

Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said Thursday the future of transportation is self-driving cars and trucks. He estimates 90 percent of traffic fatalities are due to driver error.

“If you take that driver out of the equation, we’re a safer system,” he said.

Roman Kuropas, founder of Innova EV, likes what Illinois is doing. His Chicago-area company is testing a self-driving electric car at Ohio State University. 

"We have drivers behind the wheel, and the car is learning every time it’s driving. All the sensors are gathering that data and the car and the system is becoming more intelligent,” he said.

Krystian Gebis heads Autobon AI, an Elgin company that is testing self-driving semis on I-88 – in the early morning hours, he notes, when there is little traffic. 

The semis are equipped with all kinds of sensors, cameras and GPS, including a thermo-camera in front of the truck.  Gebis says it "basically allows us to see various vehicles in front of us, as well as things like black ice or deer coming out of the forest."

Secretary Blankenhorn says self-driving vehicles are not too far off.

“I see a time when vehicles, trucks and others will be completely self-driving. It’s not tomorrow, but I think that is where we are going. That is where the technology is headed.”

The state is partnering with a university on a self-contained test track, Blankenhorn said.

Officials believe self-driving vehicles will be on Illinois roads for real drives as soon as the next three or four years.