By Sean Szymkowski
A future stretch of road between Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan, will be home to road lanes marked exclusively for self-driving cars in the future.
The state and private partner Cavnue announced Thursday the creation of a new public-private duo to build the first kind of autonomous car corridor in Southeast Michigan to help accelerate testing. Eventually, the end goal is to close “long-standing gaps” to transportation access in the area.
Although the lanes will first be a testbed for autonomous vehicles, the state and Cavnue want to future-proof the project. As self-driving cars grown smarter, the lanes may adapt to welcome different kinds of vehicles, such as large freight movers and more. Cavnue mostly envisioned smaller people-mover-type vans at first for these lanes, but the project has already attracted other large names.
Ford, General Motors, Waymo, Argo AI, Toyota, Honda, TuSimple, BMW and more have all signaled support for this public-private project. Each will work with Cavnue to develop an advisory committee to draw up neutral standards for how to implement the corridor so no OEM nor company benefits more than the other.
This is a far-reaching project that we likely won’t see materialize for years. Phase one will focus on testing and roadway designs for these lanes and should last two years. Construction will be part of “future phases” to be determined following phase one. Cavnue reaffirmed with Roadshow these lanes will be used only for autonomous vehicles with no traditional traffic permitted. A rendering from Cavnue depicts the lanes as walled off from “standard traffic” and shows what the future of highway could look like.
When we do see Cavnue’s autonomous car lanes come to life, they’ll also connect “opportunity zones” Michigan highlights to emphasize small businesses, Detroit’s airport, other communities, academic centers and more — chief among them being Ford’s upcoming mobility hub at the Michigan Central Station. https://www.cnet.com