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Are Lanes for Self-Driving Cars Coming Soon?

The thought of self-driving cars flooding our streets may still seem far-fetched, but the future may hold a special spot for those vehicles — self-driving car lanes.

This may become reality in Racine County, Wisconsin, where, according to USA Today’s Journal Sentinal, Foxconn Technology Group’s plans for a huge manufacturing plant has state highway planners looking at the possibility of including special lanes for driverless vehicles on Interstate 94.

At this point, it’s something that’s just being considered, with no concrete plans for development. If it were to get the green light, however, it would put Wisconsin at the forefront of the future of transportation.

Fast Track to Wisco

Self-driving cars have been developed and are being tested, but there are no highway lanes dedicated to so-called autonomous vehicles, a spokesman with the U.S. Department of Transportation said.

Details about the possible development emerged late last year from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, where the organization’s president spoke on the challenges the region faces in preparing for Foxconn (the world’s largest maker of electronics). The factory is slated to open in 2020.

The Journal Sentinal reports on a myriad challenges for the manufacturing hub, including increased traffic and the issue of getting huge numbers of workers (upwards of roughly 13,000) — to a semi-rural area 8 miles west of downtown Racine and more than 20 miles from downtown Milwaukee.

The state plans on widening I-94 and improve local roads, but that may not be enough. When the Department of Transportation briefed Foxconn on its plans, the tech giant asked, "So where’s the autonomous vehicle lane?"

Future Strides

Now, state transportation planners are considering the possibility.

One idea being mulled over are lanes for self-driving cars between the Foxconn plant and Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport as a way to speedily transport supplies and products to and from the plant.

While the plans are still very much in the brainstorming phase, they may become a reality in the coming years.

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