Autonomous Vehicle Testing to Begin in Merced

Merced County is establishing itself as a seminal player in the future of self-driving cars.

On Feb. 2, the Board of Supervisors finalized a contract with the Transportation Research Center (TRC), which will begin testing autonomous vehicles at the former Castle Air Force Base in Atwater. The 225-acre site will be named the California AutoTech Testing and Development Center (CATDC). Operations are expected to commence in July.

The 10-year contract will create an estimated 130 jobs within its first five years. But the benefits could well exceed that. Supervisor Scott Silveira boasted that the partnership puts Merced on the “ground floor” for “the wave of the future.”

The site will be highly advantageous for students from UC Merced and Merced College as well. The county’s director of community and economic development, Mark Hendrickson, said it would would create a pipeline for engineering students looking to kickstart their careers.

Read more about the long-anticipated contract and what it will mean for the local economy here.


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