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Michigan Looking to Have Autonomous-Car Only Lanes

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【Summary】Michigan and private partner Cavnue announced the project that would run from Detroit to Ann Arbor.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Aug 17, 2020 5:30 AM PT
Michigan Looking to Have Autonomous-Car Only Lanes

Plenty of states have roads that are only for high-occupancy vehicles or ones that consumers have to pay to use. But, at least for the moment, there aren't any lanes for autonomous vehicles in the U.S. That might change in the future, as the state of Michigan and Cavnue are working together to introduce the first road in the U.S. that would solely be for autonomous vehicles. The self-driving-car-only lane will be used to close "long-standing gaps in access to transit and transportation across the region," said Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP), Cavnue's parent company. 

Small Project Now, Major Roadway Later

Starting out, the autonomous car lanes will primarily be used for testing driverless vehicles with the intent of helping companies introduce self-driving tech as part of a two-year study. "The vision for the corridor is intended to create lanes that are purpose built to accelerate and enhance the full potential of CAVs and move people," said SIP. Eventually, the lanes will adapt to include self-driving 18-wheelers and smarter vehicles. Initially, the lanes will run roughly 40 miles from Detroit to Ann Arbor.

To use the lanes, vehicles will have to receive clearance and then will need to be connected to a remote computer system that takes data from sensors along the autonomous-car lane to be processed. This will be done to remotely control the speed that the self-driving cars travel. While one would assume this is for safety purposes, it's actually to maximize the efficiency of the traffic flow. Safety is one major upside of autonomous vehicles, but consumers are likely to enjoy the drastic reduction in traffic that the self-driving vehicles bring right away.

A Look Into The Future

Michigan is working with Cavenue, which is a part of SIP, an Alphabet funded company. SIP is actually part of Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs that came about to envision cities of the future. So, Alphabet, which is in charge of Waymo, is really the company that Michigan's working with to bring the autonomous-car lane to light. Cavenue's advisory committee is comprised of major automakers and companies that are all looking into autonomous technology, including Ford, Argo Ai, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, BMW, and Waymo.

The project will certainly be the first of its kind and, as Michigan's governor claims, will help the state lead the way forward for the futuristic vehicles. "Here in Michigan, the state that put the world on wheels, we are taking the initial steps to build the infrastructure to help us test and deploy the cars of the future," said Governor Whitmer. "As we rebuild our roads to ensure every Michigander can drive to work and drop their kids at school safely, we will also continue working to build smart infrastructure to help prepare us for the roads of tomorrow."

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