$45M center to test self-driving vehicles opens

COLUMBUS (AP) — Officials in Ohio are opening a $45 million testing ground for self-driving vehicles.

The Transportation Research Center Inc. will unveil its 540-acre SMARTCenter on Wednesday. The state-of-the-art automated and connected testing facility is located in East Liberty, about 40 miles northwest of Columbus.

The SMARTCenter features roads and structures intended to replicate the high-speed intersections, rural roads and urban areas normally encountered by drivers. Officials say the facility is among the most advanced in North America.

The goal is to give researchers and vehicle developers access to the types of driving variables that autonomous cars will face in real-life driving situations.

Transportation Research Center programs evaluate the performance of passenger cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, airplanes, off-road, tracked and alternative-fueled vehicles and their components.