With the first commercial-ready autonomous vehicles (AV) scheduled to roll off the production lines between 2018-2022 and full scale rollout expected not for at least 10-15 more years, why should anyone in the infrastructure sector focus on autonomous vehicles now? Several reasons: the amount of investment to support AV’s road infrastructure is significant; pilot programs are underway that will shape nationwide standards; and several regions in the U.S. stand to be the biggest influencers.
First, the investment required is staggering. Just consider the roadway upgrades. For a SAE level 5 AV car (driverless, no steering wheel or brake) to operate on public roads, it needs to be able to read the street signs and lane markers. There is no nationwide standard for all roads. On top of retrofit costs, roads will need hardware and software for communication between vehicles and vehicles to infrastructure, and roadside units that transmit data through DSRC, WIFI and GSP. Then add on the software needed to make sense of the data collected from cars, pedestrians, bicycles, and trucks.
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