Some self-driving vehicles need sophisticated sensors producing data being analyzed by powerful computers. An article in The Journal News on June 25, 2017 by Marco Della Cava writes “it seems the success of this transportation revolution hinges on decidedly low tech material: Paint”. The most critical upgrade of infrastructure amounts to making sure the lines on 4 million miles of roads are solid, bright and preferably white so they can be picked up by computer vision gear.
A USA Today network survey of nearly a dozen states hoping to lead the way in self-driving cars and trucks reveals varying degree of readiness as officials balance anticipating a high shift in mobility with a reluctance to spend infrastructure funds. Some states such as California, Michigan, Arizona and Ohio are eagerly welcoming self-driving vehicle tests and beginning to make upgrades to roads to accommodate self-driving vehicles.
Two factors make it difficult for states to dive headlong into concrete infrastructure, improvements whether that is painting lane stripes or embedding sensors in road and traffic signs. The first according to the article is a lack of national vision for self-driving vehicles. President Trump promised to spend upwards of 1 trillion on infrastructure needs. But so far there is no road map for securing such funds. The second factor causing some states to put the brakes on is the sense that tech companies such as Uber & Google. Waxmo and automakers such as Ford, General Motors and others are developing self-driving cars that will have sensors and mapping systems that will not rely on roadway upgrades.