LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 1, 2018) — The Kentucky Aerospace Industry Consortium (KAIC) announced the establishment of “Elevate Kentucky.” This initiative’s goal is to establish the Commonwealth of Kentucky as an autonomous vehicle testing hotbed. In doing so, KAIC will work with companies, universities and government entities to open our roadways, waterways and airways for the testing of all autonomous vehicle systems.
On July 12, Gov. Matt Bevin signed a proclamation to establish July as the kickoff month for this initiative. This proclamation declares that Kentucky “will work to open its airways, waterways, and roadways to autonomous vehicle development and testing.”
Over the past two years Uber has made incredible strides through their “Elevate” concept. This movement they have created has changed the world’s thought process on what is possible in the realm of Urban Air Transportation. One of the most incredible portions of their movement is the collaboration aspect. At their event this year in Los Angeles their list of partners showcases the best and brightest of the aerospace, engineering, and architectural firms, many of whom are competitors. This ability to bring together competing companies under a unifying idea ensures that their vision doesn’t die but continues to thrive.
With the rapid change in technological advances, “drones”, VTOL flight and the concept of integrating flying cars into society continues to become more real by the day. With globally recognized companies like Uber, Bell, Boeing and Embraer pushing the envelope, it is of keen interest for any aerospace sector to have a hand in the future of transportation. Uber has taken the charge to rack up several key research, design and construction partners, as well as working with several other key organizations on regulations and cultural acceptance. By 2020 they plan on having implemented an unknown amount of VTOL craft in at least two major U.S. cities, if not more. The two cities currently chosen for initial implementation are Los Angeles and Dallas, two of the largest cities by population in the U.S.
“Here in Kentucky,” according to a press release by KAIC, “we will not let the wave of technology pass us by and force us to become a late adopter. We are committed to being innovators and leaders in the realm of autonomy. While there are many economic reasons that Kentucky is a great location for this technologies development and testing we believe Kentucky has many additional areas we can offer to help this technology advance. We will do this by tackling three key roadblocks.”
1. Cultural Acceptance
2. Restrictive Regulatory Environment
3. Need for New Required Infrastructure
“Through a statewide collaborative effort, KAIC believes it can tackle all three of these issues more effectively. On our own any of these roadblocks can seem insurmountable, but through the establishment of strong partners we can begin to lean on the strengths of the group to ensure Kentucky is represented at the forefront of this technological innovation.
“We are currently working with private companies, industry professionals, universities, government entities, and others to establish Kentucky as a center of excellence for the development and testing of autonomous technology.
“Today we live in an age of tremendous technological growth in capability, while at the same time that technology is always shrinking in size. This has enabled and empowered companies and states of all sizes to have disruptive effects on current and future industries. The key to innovative success is in the ability to pivot quickly and capitalize on the new abilities technology can offer.”