The march toward autonomous vehicles marches on relentlessly. Recently, an Audi equipped with sensors and other technology making it largely autonomous made a cross-country trip from California to New York with only minimal, occasional intervention by a driver in the car. Nevada is allowing a self-driving truck to be tested on their highways, and Google has been test driving their new autonomous car technology on California roads. In an expansion of their testing territory, Google and any other companies working on autonomous driving vehicles have now gotten permission to road test their technology on a select portion of highway in Virginia.
Virginia may not be the first state to come to mind when one thinks of high-tech industry although this may be a misconception. Thanks to a hefty military industrial base, it is home to companies such as Northrup Grumman and Lockheed Martin. According to James Dondero, the 70 mile stretch of highway set aside for this testing has been dubbed the “Virginia Automated Corridors.” The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute will oversee these tests, and the vehicles will have to be manned during them just in case there is a failure of the automated equipment during testing. This should help foster an image for Virginia as a place for high technology, and perhaps that is why the state has given the go ahead to such a cutting edge project. Autonomous cars are coming, sooner or later, and this move should put Virginia at the forefront of this massive change in transportation norms.