Autonomous Vehicles Still Welcome in the Triangle

From the News & Observer...

The fatal crash involving an Uber self-driving car in Arizona last month has not dissuaded the N.C. Turnpike Authority from urging companies to test autonomous vehicles on the Triangle Expressway in western Wake County.

The toll road that runs from Research Triangle Park south to Holly Springs is one of 10 places around the country and the only one in North Carolina that the U.S. Department of Transportation has designated as “proving grounds” for automated vehicles. The federal government chose the 10 from more than 60 groups that wanted to host autonomous vehicle testing.

The Turnpike Authority and the N.C. Department of Transportation say hosting a site for autonomous vehicle testing will allow them to learn about technology that is already showing up on the state’s highways and will only become more common and sophisticated. By having the testing done here, highway engineers can learn from the car companies what changes may be needed to pavement markings, signs and other aspects of a road to ensure the technology works as intended, said Dennis Jernigan, the Turnpike Authority’s director of highway operations. ...

So far, no company has opted to test its vehicles on the Triangle Expressway. Jernigan said the state and its five university research partners — N.C. State, UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, N.C. A&T and UNC Charlotte — are actively marketing the expressway as well as an independent nonprofit off-road testing site near Roanoke Rapids, the N.C. Center for Automotive Research.

They’re touting the expressway as one of the most advanced freeways in the country. It has a fiber optic network along its 19-mile length used for electronic tolling as well as the video cameras and in-pavement detectors that help the Turnpike Authority monitor conditions on the highway from a 24-hour traffic management center in Raleigh.
— Richard Stradling - N&O
Brent Woodcox