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With a ‘digital twin,’ Westminster is laying the groundwork for its Autonomous Corridor

Graham Dodge, executive director of Westminster's MAGIC, writes about how the city gathered self-driving cars, drones and robots from around Maryland to kick off the project. “In Westminster, we don’t sit idly by and wait for the technology to come to us,” said Dr. Mona Becker, the recently elected mayor.

The Autonomous Corridor project is rolling in Westminster. (Photo by Molly Sherman)
This is a guest post by Graham Dodge, executive director of Westminster tech community builder MAGIC.
When it comes to Maryland’s self-driving technology, all roads led to Westminster this month.

On May 20, the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory (MAGIC) hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to kick off its Autonomous Corridor project in the City of Westminster — the third largest municipality within the Baltimore metro area.

The event launched a LIDAR scanning vehicle that we at MAGIC are using to create a “digital twin” of Westminster. It will serve as part of the infrastructure (along with our municipal gigabit fiber network) to bring door-to-door, on-demand public transportation and drone delivery to the city.

Along with the ribbon cutting, we hosted an autonomous vehicle and robotics showcase featuring several Maryland, D.C. and Virginia-based companies and organizations. Perrone Robotics offered free autonomous rides through Westminster on its TONY-AV-STAR, while Steer Tech showed off its aftermarket, self parking solutions in the parking lot at the event. Attendees could also take a seat in an Olli, a 3D printed autonomous shuttle that is a joint venture between Local Motors and Robotic Research.

These are just a few examples of autonomous technologies that MAGIC is working to bring to Westminster to grow a connected, autonomous city.

“This initiative is a tremendous opportunity for discovery, for advancement and to showcase the innovative spirit that thrives across Maryland,” said Kelly Schulz, Maryland’s Secretary of Commerce.

Secretary Schulz emphasized the importance of accessible public transportation to connect communities and spur economic growth in her speech.

“Access to public transportation can be a huge barrier that keeps people from important opportunities for employment and education,” she said. “So any project that examines ways to remove those kinds of barriers is asking the right questions.”



Aboard Olli.

Aboard Olli. (Photo by Molly Sherman)

Held at the old Stocksdale Garage, a property now owned by the City of Westminster and earmarked for development, the event also featured local technology companies like Dynamic Dimension Technologies, the engineering partner that is scanning the corridor and creating the digital twin, and Dirigible Systems a fog and edge computing partner helping to design the wireless services for the corridor.

They were joined by autonomous stakeholders from around the region, including Oculi, Airgility, HopFlyt, Lantern, SAE International Cumberland Valley, Harbor Designs, Kick Robotics, University of Maryland UAS Test Site, UMBC College of Engineering and Information Technology, McDaniel College, Carroll Community College, Ting Internet, Carroll County Public Library, PIE3 Robotics, Air Tigers Robotics, Maryland Innovation Center, Hey Westminster!, Chain Bridge Financial, AP Corp, and Open Professional Group.

Team members from Airgility demonstrate autonomous drone technology (Photo by Molly Sherman)

Also speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony was the City of Westminster’s recently elected mayor Dr. Mona Becker, marking her first public speaking event since her historic election as both the city’s first female mayor and first openly gay mayor.

“In Westminster, we don’t sit idly by and wait for the technology to come to us,” said Becker. “We chase it down, we lead it, and we revolutionize it.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.  All told, the outdoor event hosted over 100 invited attendees, who can now see how Westminster is putting into practice our city motto: “Where history meets tomorrow.”

Find more on the Autonomous Corridor here.

Officials include Maryland Secertary of Commerce Kelly Schulz (second from left) and MAGIC Exuective Director Graham Dodge (center) cut the ribbon on MAGIC’s Autonomous Corridor. (Photo by Molly Sherman)


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