Mich. eyes dedicated lanes for autonomous, connected vehicles

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Michigan leaders intend to place connected and autonomous vehicles in the fast lane toward the future.

With an eye toward embracing industry R&D efforts, the state said Thursday it has embarked on efforts to sketch a corridor between Detroit and Ann Arbor loaded with infrastructure that can speed deployment and enables safe movement of these vehicles.

Chiefly, renderings for the project — which will explore the viability of building such a corridor — depict the creation of dedicated lanes reserved for connected and autonomous vehicles that are separated from human traffic by “separation barriers” that “ensure safety and efficiency,” according to Cavnue.

Cavnue, a subsidiary of Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners — itself a division of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company — will run the exploratory project along with Google subsidiary Sidewalk Labs, the company’s urban digitalization platform.

Officials say they will evaluate the potential of the project over the next 24 months.

But a road tailor-made for connected and autonomous vehicles — with extra attention paid to lane markings, the creation of high-definition maps and “ubiquitous” connectivity — would be a first.

Both Interstate 94 and Michigan Avenue could be “key routes” in linking the two cities, and leaders envision further connections to major passenger and freight hubs, namely Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and Willow Run Airport, as part of the project.

The state’s two AV test tracks, Mcity and the American Center for Mobility, are involved in the public-private partnership, as are companies such as Ford, General Motors, Argo AI, BMW, TuSimple and Waymo, which are all members of an advisory committee working with Cavnue.

Leaders in the state, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, were expected to gather and further outline the project Thursday afternoon.

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Saurabh Shukla

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