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Virginia Approves Autonomous Car Testing on Public Roads

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2015-06-05 Kelly Pleskot

This week, Virginia became the latest state to allow the testing of autonomous cars on its public roads.

Autonomous vehicles will first undergo safety testing in controlled areas of the state including the Smart Road in Montgomery County and at Virginia International Raceway in Halifax County. Part of this testing process will include "smart roadways" that can interact with cars, guiding them through traffic signals and alerting them to oncoming emergency vehicles. Then, the cars will be able to roam certain portions of Interstates 95, 495, and 66 and U.S. routes 29 and 50 in the northern part of the state. Drivers must be on hand to take control of the cars in the event of a computer malfunction.

The research on this project will be overseen by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Myra Blanco, director of the Institute's Center for Automated Vehicle Systems, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch she expects autonomous cars will start arriving on Virginia highways within a year.

Until now, the only states to greenlight autonomous vehicle testing were California, Nevada, Michigan, and Florida, in addition to Washington, D.C. These states, particularly the Western ones, have helped Google's autonomous test vehicles log almost 2 million miles within the last six years.

Autonomous cars have been stealing headlines lately -- in both good ways and bad. Chevrolet released an intriguing autonomous car concept at this year's Shanghai auto show, and Mercedes-Benz has even tested its F 015 Luxury in Motion car. But it has also been reported that there have been several accidents involving mostly Google self-driving cars in California since September 2014. Mercedes Benz F 015 Luxury In Motion Concept Front Three Quarter 07 © Provided by MotorTrend Mercedes Benz F 015 Luxury In Motion Concept Front Three Quarter 07

Although autonomous cars haven't hit the market yet, automakers are gradually on their way there. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn expressed his goal of making commercially viable autonomous tech by 2020. General Motors somewhat shares Nissan's basic sentiment, making 2020 its goal for driver-assisted autonomous driving.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Google Self Driving Car prototype © Provided by MotorTrend Google Self Driving Car prototype
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