YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio Department of Transportation announced Friday that DriveOhio’s Rural Automated Driving Systems is closer to deployment after two autonomous semi-trucks completed controlled testing.

The trucks are expected to begin operating on public roads soon, ODOT said. Since the technology is new, a driver will always be in the driver’s seat to take over if needed.

Most testing has been done on a closed track at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio.

A first run will have tractor-trailers using platooning technology that links two trucks in a convoy. The lead vehicle controls the speed and direction, and all following vehicles have matched braking and acceleration and respond to the lead vehicle’s movement.

Future demonstrations will include automated passenger vehicles on pre-selected routes in southeast Ohio.

Ohio has become a sort of hub for autonomous vehicle testing with the construction of the Transportation Research Center. It opened in 2019.

The background work for the facility began under former Ohio Governor John Kasich and then was picked up by Governor Mike DeWine.