November 28, 2022
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Governor Kevin Stitt (R) of Oklahoma (seen above at right) and Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) of Arkansas (seen above at left) recently held a joint press event to highlight their efforts to make the Oklahoma-Arkansas region a national hub for advanced mobility technology development.

[Above photo by the Oklahoma Governor’s Office]

Their collaborative effort seeks to boost support for the growth of the advanced mobility industry, which includes drones, electric and autonomous vehicles, battery manufacturing, and various transportation and logistics solutions.

The new hub would create new research and testing space, support local mobility startups, attract new companies, and convene industry corporations to test and scale new technologies.

Gov. Kevin Stitt. Photo by the Oklahoma Governor’s Office.

“Oklahoma has a legacy of leadership in aerospace and I am thrilled with the innovation we are seeing in research and development in autonomous systems and advanced air mobility,” said Gov. Stitt in a statement.

“I am proud of the work being done by our aerospace and autonomous systems councils, our universities, corporations and entrepreneurs around our great state in advanced mobility technologies,” he noted. “This partnership gives us the momentum we need for this region to lead the nation into the future of mobility.”

Various urban-rural airspace, legacy aerospace, logistics and retail industries, robust manufacturing workforces, university research, and military assets uniquely position the Oklahoma-Arkansas region to establish itself as a national leader in the advanced mobility sector, added Gov. Hutchinson.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson at far left. Photo by the Oklahoma Governor’s Office.

He said the industry is projected help create up to 55,000 new jobs in careers such as software engineering, cybersecurity analytics, drone piloting, and vehicle maintenance, as well as mechanical and industrial engineers. According to the analysis, average earnings in the advanced mobility sector could be approximately 50 percent higher compared to other industries in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

“I have seen enough of space-age mobility and technology in Arkansas to know that drones and autonomous vehicles are no longer the stuff of science fiction,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “This partnership will accelerate the work on advanced mobility and further enhance our region’s reputation as a leader in technological innovation.”

Several states are involved in similar efforts to foster expansion of the advanced mobility industry.

In April, Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) and National Park Service Director Chuck Sams formed a partnership between Michigan and the agency to pilot test new mobility technologies in the five national parks located in the state to help increase accessibility and equity in recreational and park settings.

In addition, in June 2021, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and NASA began conducting joint tests of advanced technology cargo aircraft and passenger air taxi services in order to provide “more dynamic aviation options” for state residents.

editor@aashto.org

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