Updating Policies with Technology and Building a Foundation for Autonomous Vehicles
Written by Dennis Spielman
With a background in government and public affairs, Tom Robins is putting his political knowledge to help Oklahoma grow as a Top 10 place for IT. In the fall of 2019, Robins started the OITA, the Oklahoma Innovative Technology Alliance, to give Oklahoma IT companies a voice in the public policy process.
“Having worked in DC, everybody has a trade association,” said Tom Robins. “Everybody’s represented. The guys who build your desks have a trade association where they’re getting together, talking about some of the barriers to their business and priorities. It shows that IT is growing up here in Oklahoma and creating opportunities.”
As part of his presentation for the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch, Robins will highlight the gist of their mission statement and how they educate policy members, members of the legislature, and others, the best way to create an environment for IT and technology in Oklahoma.
“We got organized at the end of this last year, and we’re really kicking things off in January,” said Robins. “We’re going to be doing a coffee and conversation with the Oklahoma legislators, with Oklahoma IT leaders. So I think that’ll be a great thing for investment, the investment community in Oklahoma, for OVF members, for people that are involved with businesses that have an IT innovative component that are either just starting or that are established, that want to network with other companies, but also want to start talking to policymakers about that.”
Robins’ main topic of his presentation will be on the autonomous vehicle side. As president of the consulting company, Solid Foundation Consulting, Robins helps build projects and coalitions around different issues. One of those he got tapped to lead was on behalf of the secretary of transportation, was to head the Oklahoma autonomous vehicle working group. The purpose of the group is to signal to the markets, signal to investments, and signal to people who are interested that Oklahoma is open for business when it comes to autonomous vehicle technology.
“There’s a lot of layers that need to be engaged on autonomous vehicles, both on the ground and aerial, and what that technology means and what the state needs to be doing to prepare,” said Robins. “It’s a landing place for people that have questions or an interest or are looking at investing in autonomous vehicle technology in some way, or autonomous transportation, I’d say, or electrification, and giving them a welcome mat, and then directing them through education engagement or policy to the right place.”
An example of the group’s earliest win they had was the issue on truck platooning. Similar to how flocks of birds drift off of each other to converse energy, the state of Oklahoma passed a bill that allowed for that technology with trucks.
“There’s trucks that can draft off each other and be able to what they call platoon if they’re connected via technology,” said Robins. “Now, there is still a driver in each of those seats, but they can draft off each other in a much closer, compatible way. And that is all through technology from those cabs talking to each other, right? So, there is already that happening on the road, but you have to be able to update the laws as you go along as you discover either county, municipal, or state regulations that either impede or hinder that development.”
Tom Robins, along with Jim Grimsley, will be speaking at the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Be sure to register for the online ZOOM event to learn more about how technology is shifting in Oklahoma, ask your questions, and network with entrepreneurs in Oklahoma.