How to win an auto race without a driver:
October 11, 2021
Henderson, NV offers the inside track for autonomous vehicle testing and production.
In the race for the development and production of autonomous vehicles, Southern Nevada claimed the pole position early on and never looked back. After Nevada became the first state in the nation to greenlight autonomous vehicles in 2011, Southern Nevada followed up by initiating and operating one of the nation’s first integrated traffic management systems for advanced testing of traffic and automotive technology.
Today, the results of that speed are obvious in what can be seen, or rather not seen in some cars on Southern Nevada roads: Drivers. Fully driverless passenger vehicles, driverless delivery vehicles and other types of semi-autonomous vehicles are becoming part of the landscape here.
“Without a doubt, the future of mobility is here in Southern Nevada,” notes Derek Armstrong, Director of Economic Development and Tourism in Henderson, Nevada. Henderson sits in the heart of the Southern Nevada region and is poised to provide all the advantages needed to fuel the region’s fast-moving AV market, which includes:
- Halo driverless car service: Available in late 2021, the Halo service will run on T-Mobile’s 5G network. Not fully autonomous, the cars will be driven by passengers to their destinations, and afterwards remote “pilots” will drive the cars back to base, relying on a bevy of custom automotive technology including cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors for safe navigation.
- Motional fully autonomous vehicles: A joint venture of Hyundai and Aptiv, Motional began testing its fully autonomous vehicles in Southern Nevada in February 2021, becoming one of the few AV operators in the nation to achieve the milestone of what is known as Level 4 vehicles—that is, fully driverless without human backup. Lyft, another Aptiv partner, expects to deploy these vehicles in the region soon.
- Nuro driverless delivery vehicles: In 2020 the Nevada state legislators continued to forge an AV leadership path by approving an amendment to earlier authorization bills to pave the way for autonomous delivery vehicles like those made by Nuro, which are now delivering food products in Southern Nevada; in August, the company announced it will begin assembling and testing its vehicles here as well.
A fast start accelerated by multiple advantages.
While Nevada and Southern Nevada’s strategic early moves helped jumpstart the sector’s strong emergence here, Armstrong points to other assets that have helped speed growth, starting with the region’s flourishing tech cluster. It’s no coincidence that Lyft and Aptiv unveiled their first AV versions with test drives at the 2017 CES, Southern Nevada’s legendary global electronic trade show, and at the 2021 CES Cadillac unveiled its Personal Autonomous Vehicle (PAV), a new self-driving luxury robotaxi.
“Southern Nevada welcomes innovation; it nurtures innovation, and we have the resources and the platforms like CES to promote innovation,” Armstrong notes. “And with our rapidly expanding tech cluster, our facilities and abilities for nurturing and promoting innovation are only growing more effective.” In 2019, for example, after Google broke ground on its $600 million data center in Henderson, the company quickly followed up by initiating plans to double the size of its facility.
Proximity to key markets and an able, willing workforce are also key factors. Southern Nevada offers rapid, low-cost reach to Western markets, including California ports, where products can be delivered in a one-day turnaround. Southern Nevada also delivers when it comes to performance, thanks to a young and rapidly growing population and workforce leaders responding equally quickly to training needs. The new $12 million Workforce Training Center in Henderson will provide custom-training for advanced and tech manufacturing. That’s one reason the California-based Haas Automation, the world’s largest manufacturer of machine tools, recently chose Henderson for the company’s new $327 expansion manufacturing complex.
Vehicles for a more sustainable world. A city for more sustainable AV success.
According to many experts, self-driving cars are expected to revolutionize sustainable mobility, easing stop and go traffic with adaptive responses that save time, gasoline and possibly lives. Ever-improving AV technology will also spur increased ride sharing, and in turn further reduce traffic and pollution.
In Henderson, a city with a nationally noted quality of life, innovations like those are embraced. But equally important is the sustainable success that AV businesses can enjoy in a pro-business community where costs and taxes are lower, including Henderson’s property taxes, the lowest in the region.
“Henderson allows the AV sector to leverage all of the advantages of the Southern Nevada region, at the lowest possible costs, and with the highest level of support,” says Armstrong. “In the pole position of Southern Nevada, Henderson offers the inside track.”