Maryland City Begins Phase One of Autonomous Corridor Project
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Self-driving cars aren’t the only new technology expected on the roads in Westminster, Maryland in the next few years, thanks to a new project spearheaded by a local technology non-profit.
Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory (MAGIC) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, May 20, to kick off the city’s Autonomous Corridor project. The event included free autonomous rides through Westminster and the chance to sit in a 3D-printed autonomous shuttle.
The project, which aims to increase access to transportation in the city using artificial intelligence and autonomous technology, is the latest development in an ongoing, national conversation concerning the safety, reliability, and accessibility of self-driving technology.
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MAGIC’s Autonomous Corridor project, explained
According to MAGIC, the first step in the Autonomous Corridor project will be the scanning of several routes of the city of Westminster “to create the autonomous corridor’s 3D environment.” The organization has teamed up with Dynamic Dimensions Technologies to complete the scanning process.
Once the data for all the routes included are collected, autonomous shuttles will use them to learn the city’s traffic patterns, terrain, and road conditions.
One of the main reasons MAGIC and Westminster have developed the program is to address some of the community’s concerns about walkability, transportation and parking infrastructure, and other factors that impact the socio-economic landscape of the city.
As described in Insurance Journal, the routes mapped out for the project will connect Carroll Lutheran Village (a retirement community), Carroll Community College, McDaniel College, and the YMCA to downtown Westminster.
Why are fully automated vehicles not yet available?
While many companies are already testing prototypes and offering self-driving options in their current models, fully autonomous cars are not yet on the market. Self-driving technology still has a few hurdles to overcome before it can make the impact on society that tech giants and automakers have promised.
For one thing, autonomous vehicles will need an enormous amount of mapping and localization data before they are safe and reliable enough to transport the public. Many companies, including Google and Tesla, have already begun collecting this information, with Google’s Waymo already clocking over 6.1 million miles, as per The Verge.
Another issue the new technology faces has to do with liability. U.S. Senate Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on how to compensate victims of accidents caused by autonomous vehicles. A recent fatal accident involving a Tesla in self-driving mode has only intensified the debate.
Insuring a self-driving vehicle
While these issues are still not fully addressed, progress is being made, and at the current rate of the industry, you should expect to see fully autonomous vehicles on the road in the not-so-distant future.
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