Driverless Vehicles Not That Far in the Future for Oklahoma

Oct 9, 2018

Independent Oklahoma City grocery chain Buy for Less is developing a delivery service using self-driving vans.
Credit Buy for Less

Autonomous vehicles may be in Oklahoma’s near future.

Oklahoma City grocery chain Buy for Less is looking at automated delivery. In the meantime, a working group is figuring out how state and local policies will deal with autonomous vehicles ahead of that rollout.

"They will begin with, of course, a driver in the cab while it’s driving autonomous. That will be at least a year away before we see that. And then, ultimately, they believe that they can have it fully autonomous," said Oklahoma Transportation Secretary Mike Patterson.

Patterson said the forward progress puts Oklahoma on the forefront with California, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas.

"They have people coming to their states, wanting to introduce this type of vehicle delivery, be it people or groceries. So, we’re extremely excited that we have, in our own little way, paved the way for this to happen," Patterson said.

The working group includes state and local officials, transportation experts, and other partners. Patterson said he’s been asked whether self-driving vehicles will be allowed if they’re any less safe than those with a person behind the wheel.

"Obviously, no. They will have to prove to the cities that they’re involved in and the state of Oklahoma that it is a safe method," Patterson said.

Oklahoma City isn't the only part of Oklahoma that could see self-driving vehicles sooner than later. Transportation analytics firm Inrix has ranked Tulsa as the 10th-best American city for shared autonomous vehicle deployment, and officials are looking at a driverless shuttle from the Gathering Place to Philbrook Museum.