In 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation designated Chula Vista and the broader San Diego region as one of 10 Autonomous Vehicle Proving Grounds in the U.S., and one of only two in the state of California. The region was recognized for its ability to demonstrate safety planning, willingness to share information with industry and government partners, and commitment to compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and policies.
Chula Vista has worked with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to establish the San Diego Regional Proving Ground (RPG), intended to be a real-world laboratory for validating autonomous vehicle technology. The RPG includes local streets and roads in Chula Vista, state Route 125 and Interstate 15.
The San Diego RPG is driven by a consortium of industry affiliates and academic partners. While autonomous vehicles can be tested and deployed anywhere in the state of California with appropriate permits from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), San Diego RPG affiliates have streamlined access to local agency officials and receive expedited permitting for select City of Chula Vista and Caltrans road closures and equipment installations.
One major project of the San Diego RPG is the Chula Vista Mobility Hub, which will explore the concept of combining multiple modes of transportation — bicycles, autonomous vehicles, bus transit, electric vehicle charging, on-demand rideshare, etc. — in a central location. Planning for the Chula Vista Mobility Hub project is underway, with an in-depth workshop planned for Winter 2019.
The city is open to a wide range of high-tech vehicle research. A significant amount of supporting infrastructure will be needed to accommodate a future of autonomous vehicles. This supporting infrastructure may include 5G wireless communications networks, advanced traffic signal control systems, upgraded streetlights, and more.
Safety is a top priority whenever testing is conducted in Chula Vista. The city has designated safety supervisor, a Chula Vista police captain, who serves as a single point of contact for all proving grounds activities. The city also has safety protocols and policies to protect the safety of other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians on the roads.
Recognizing the potential of autonomous vehicles to drive economic growth and improve safety on our roads, Chula Vista city staff are eager to work with the private sector to find win-win opportunities that benefit residents and businesses. The Chula Vista City Council has adopted a resolution expressing the city's support for autonomous vehicle research and AV testing on city streets.
The city’s openness to autonomous vehicle manufacturers is already attracting new interest in the city among high-tech companies, several of whom have begun tests within the city. As the need to test and validate new technology grows over the next few years, we expect a long-term presence, bringing more economic activity to South County and growing the number of local jobs.