Autonomous cars are constantly talked about as the future of driving, but one thing that’s usually overlooked in this discussion is the underlying infrastructure to support them.
If self-driving vehicles are to increasingly inhabit our roads, shouldn’t the roads be ‘smart’ as well?
Proposing an answer to this question is the US state of Ohio, which has created its own ‘autonomous highway’.
Ohio’s ‘Smart Mobility Corridor’ started its first phase of construction in June with testing to take place later this month. The entire project consists of a 35-mile stretch of road running from Dublin, Ohio to East Liberty, Ohio.
The highway has a fiber optic network, as well as embedded and wireless sensors, that will use Wi-Fi technology to talk to autonomous cars and advise on things like traffic, weather, road conditions, and accidents.
The Ohio Department of Transportation, who is overseeing the program, expects the road to be fully functional by 2018. By then, an extra 42 miles of fiber would have been laid too.
One of the major reasons self-driving cars are touted as the way forward is due to the fact that there are no humans behind the wheel, thereby removing a large amount of risk.
At CxO Disrupt, Brisbane in 2015, Andry Rakotonirainy, Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems at The Queensland University of Technology, spoke on the future of autonomous vehicles, simply stating “if you take the driver out of the loop, you save lives.”
Governor of Ohio John Kasich echoed this sentiment at the announcement ceremony last year, stating that at their core, autonomous vehicles provide safety and efficiency.
“Think about the number of lives that are going to be saved when we get fully autonomous. The issue of things like drunk driving and drugged driving won’t even exist anymore.”
Clearly, Ohio is leading the way in terms of not just preparing for a future with autonomous vehicles, but also one where the roads have advanced capabilities too. As more cities become ‘smart’, it won’t be long before we see ‘autonomous highways’ in every country.