Colorado setting the stage to be a leader in driverless car technology

Autonomous shuttles will be tested near DIA

DENVER -- Colorado lawmakers are setting the stage for the state to lead the nation in driverless car technology.

Legislation approved by the state House will lay down the framework for innovation and would be one of the first driverless car bills in the nation.

"It is our job as elected officials to figure out how to make sure we have a strong Colorado economy and safety on our roads," said Rep. Jeff Bridges. "This bill lays the foundation to ensure we bring jobs and innovation to our state while protecting public safety."

Panasonic is working on several projects centered around autonomous vehicles and connected-vehicle technology.

A 400-acre parcel near the Denver International Airport will be home to Panasonic's first U.S. smart city, dubbed Pena Station Next. It will be a testing ground for the latest technology, including a driverless shuttle.

"It means job creation. It means jobs. It means being on the map for start-ups and innovators, and we’re just scratching the surface as far as mobility solutions once we unlock this platform," said Jarrett Wendt, Panasonic's Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives.

Wendt said you can expect to see demonstrations of autonomous shuttles within the next three months. He foresees the shuttles being used to connect the A Line train at Pena Station Next to nearby hotels at the airport.

Panasonic has also partnered with CDOT to connect cars and the transportation system on I-70. The goal is to ultimately share real-time data across vehicles and infrastructure.

According to Rep. Faith Winter, companies like General Motors, Audi, Tesla, Uber and Google have already expressed interest in Colorado.

"It will advance and accelerate the investment that is autonomous technology, and self-driving cars in Colorado, to where there will be more money invested in it," said Tim Jackson with the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.

The bill will now head back to the Senate to consider final amendments.

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