It is a new territory in motorway construction. What we’re talking about here is creating a network of sensors—both above and below ground—that will interface with self-driving vehicles and further enable vehicle-to-vehicle communications. These sensors will also need to withstand Michigan’s year-round climate and be built as future-proof as possible. And we’re not even talking about cybersecurity yet. The technology to do all this technically exists already across the entire mobility industry, but it’s yet to be assembled into the kind of holistic system envisioned here.
Michigan says they are only starting Phase One of this project, which is expected to last up to 24 months before continuing onto Phase Two. Step one is essentially figuring out how they are going to start building this roadway. Where does one begin if it has never been done before?
Once it is complete, the first self-driving vehicles allowed will be public transport and shared-mobility vehicles, thus creating a new means of public transit in the form of autonomous shuttles commuting people between Ann Arbor and Detroit. After that, the next step will be allowing self-driving freight and personal vehicles to merge into the lane—provided that these vehicles are equipped with fully autonomous software.
It’s way too soon to guess when we’ll see the first autonomous Detroit airport shuttle busing people on I-94. But like the Hoover Dam and the city of Detroit itself, it has to start somewhere.
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