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Caltrans Is Already Modifying California’s Roads For Self-Driving Cars

Caltrans has already begun altering California’s roadways so as to better accommodate the rollout of self-driving vehicles. It is doing so mostly by better accommodating the way that many self-driving vehicles navigate. This news comes from recent comments from the director of Caltrans.

Caltrans has already begun altering California’s roadways so as to better accommodate the rollout of self-driving vehicles. It is doing so mostly by better accommodating the way that many self-driving vehicles navigate. This news comes from recent comments from the director of Caltrans.

What this means is that California’s state highway management system is now apparently one of the first systems anywhere in the world to be actively changing its operations to better suit self-driving vehicles.

Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty, in an interview with KPCC Southern California Public Radio, expounded on the matter like this: “The automated vehicles (AVs) can follow lane lines. They can’t follow the Botts’ Dots, so we’re actually changing our delineation standards to go away from the Botts’ Dots which we’ve been using for decades because AVs have a difficult time following those.”

“All of our lane lines are going to get thicker,” Dougherty continued, in his interview with KPCC. “Today our lane lines are only four inches thick. Now every lane line we lie down going forward is going to be six inches thick. I’ve already started to see some of this transition.”

San Francisco Business Times provides more details: “Dougherty said that the lane modification will happen as roads and highways get new construction or standard re-striping done — and added that the agency aims to have the state’s highways and interstates modified within the next two to three years. California has around 50,000 miles of roadways”

So, to reiterate that last point, to those now worrying about costs: the changes are mostly going to be made in conjunction with regular maintenance and construction work, rather than being a standalone matter. So, the costs of the work shouldn’t be too expensive.

As a reminder here, there are many companies now testing self-driving vehicle tech in California, including Waymo/Google, GM, Tesla, Hyundai, Uber, and Baidu.


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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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