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Caltrans begins modifying roads for self-driving cars

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In yet another sign of the rapid advance of self-driving technology, California has already started adapting roads for autonomous vehicles, a new report says.

Because autonomous and semi-autonomous cars use cameras to “see” road markings, those markings are being changed, Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty told KPCC Southern California Public Radio.

“All of our lane lines are going to get thicker,” Dougherty said, according to the station.

“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.”

Another roadway modification concerns the rounded Botts’ Dots that mark lane divisions and make cars go bump when they’re driven over.

“The automated vehicles (AVs) can follow lane lines,” Dougherty said.

“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.”

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To make California’s 50,000 lane miles of road robot-car ready, the new markings will be put down during construction projects and the regular re-striping of roadways, Dougherty said.

“I would say we would at least prioritize the interstates and freeways and have that done in the next two or three years,” he said.

Photo: A self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan from Google spin-off Waymo (courtesy of Waymo)

Tags: autonomous vehicles, AVs, Botts’ Dots, Caltrans, highways, lanes, Malcolm Dougherty, markings, roads, robot

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