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States Wire ­p Roads as Cars Get Smarter

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Smart roads may include electric vehicle recharge lanes.

A number of U.S. states plan to incorporate smart technologies into their roadways.


To prepare for the day when self-driving cars will travel on technology-aided roads, U.S. state transit planners aim to outfit those roadways with fiber optics, cameras, and linked signal devices to make traffic safer and more efficient.

Planners say the technology will lead to faster trips, fewer accidents, and fuel savings.

Smart-road technology currently is being installed in only a few miles of highway in a handful of states, but state transit authorities hope the incoming presidential administration will help accelerate the move to smart roads by honoring its promise to boost infrastructure budgets.

Ohio in December announced it would invest $15 million in smart-road technology along a stretch of Route 33.

States will need to choose how to communicate with autos as various manufacturers and technology firms develop self-driving car applications independently--a job made challenging by a lack of standards.

The biggest obstacle cited by highway researchers is guaranteeing smart-road technology, especially costly software, can work. Road connections to autos mostly use wireless dedicated short-range communications. However, experts say the industry may opt for cellular-data systems or Wi-Fi if they offer sufficiently reliable and rapid information transmissions.

From The Wall Street Journal
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