CONCORD (CBS SF) — Self-driving cars will soon be zooming around Concord’s Naval Weapons Station under an agreement with Mercedes-Benz to use the station’s vehicle testing facility, Contra Costa Transportation Authority officials announced Wednesday.
The car company will start using the site later this month to test out its “autonomous driving vehicles” and new transportation technology including traffic signals designed to communicate with self-driving cars, CCTA officials said.READ MORE: New Facebook Whistleblower Says Executives Shrugged as Algorithm Stoked Hate, Misinformation
Mercedes-Benz has been licensed to use a new test site at the shuttered weapons station located off of Port Chicago Highway in North Concord as part of an agreement with the CCTA, the city of Concord and the U.S. Navy.
CCTA officials say the facility’s 2,100 acres of testing area and nearly 20 miles of paved roadway make it an ideal spot to test out the cutting-edge technology.
“We can use the test site in Concord, California to run simulation tests with self-driving vehicles in a secure way, including specific hazardous situations,” said Dr. Axel Gern, head of autonomous driving at Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc.
“Taken in conjunction with the results of our test drives on public roads, these tests will help us with the ongoing development of our autonomous cars,” Gern said.
Mountain View-based tech giant Google has been testing out its own fleet of self-driving cars.READ MORE: CDC Approves Wide Range of Options for COVID Boosters
But Concord city officials and other area leaders are hoping the agreement with Mercedes-Benz will draw more high-tech companies to Contra Costa County.
“This partnership is indication that we’re moving forward in the 21st Century economy,” Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, said in a statement.
“I’m confident that this is the first of many partnerships that will spark transportation innovation and smart growth in Contra Costa and hopeful that the city of Concord can one day be viewed as a transportation technology hub where high-tech jobs for residents are plentiful,” Bonilla said.
In June, the Concord City Council selected four companies with experience converting former military bases into large housing and commercial projects as potential master developers for the Concord Naval Weapons Station property.
The property is still owned by the U.S. Navy but is set to be transferred to city ownership in 2015.MORE NEWS: Climate Change Disrupting Natural Cycles at Drier Lake Tahoe
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