8/2022 / Insight

The Road to Autonomy At-Scale Starts with a Commitment from Government to Future-Proof Our Nation’s Roads

Type: Insight

Over the last decade, there has been tremendous innovation in passenger and commercial vehicles with the creation and implementation of a wide range of advanced driving technology. This technology can keep drivers safer and more informed while simultaneously reducing driver responsibility and improving the efficiency of the movement of people and goods. 

Despite these exciting innovations, automating the driving function within an unstructured environment—riddled with challenges like traffic patterns, adverse weather impacts and unpredictable human behavior—remains one of the most difficult engineering challenges ever attempted. There are an infinite number of situations for which generalized solutions must be developed and tested, all taking place atop aging infrastructure and unpredictable roadway operations. Attempting to solve for autonomy is a complex and lengthy process that will be made significantly more difficult without support from the road itself.

The truth is: smart vehicles need smart roads. 

Whether it is connected and partially automated vehicles on the roads today or the fully autonomous vehicles of tomorrow, cars, buses, and trucks need a reliable and predictable environment.

At Cavnue, we are developing the world’s most advanced roadways that provide connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) with the physical and digital infrastructure needed to ensure optimal operating conditions for vehicles and transportation experience for drivers and passengers. 

This roadway solution, working in conjunction with the technology on vehicles, will massively reduce the complexity challenge faced by autonomy alone. Implementing Cavnue’s infrastructure solutions allows for the ability to save lives, boost productivity, reduce emissions, address supply chain challenges, and accelerate new forms of transit. However, the deployment of these smart roads and the future-state of our nation’s transportation infrastructure needs a new type of partnership to support the technology on future vehicles. 

Smart roads need strong partners.

For nearly a century, roads have been a government business. The public sector has long had the reputation of lagging in the technology sector because of the extra diligence that must be placed on taxpayer dollars as well as protracted procurement cycles that stifle the agility necessary for accelerated innovation. 

Cavnue offers a safe and economic path for those charged with operating today’s roads to realize all of the potential of today’s (and tomorrow’s) advanced technologies. Our product is a unique collaboration between the entire industry—from vehicle manufacturers to technology innovators—and government to develop the supportive roadway and digital infrastructure system that will accelerate the benefits of advanced vehicles, including fewer crashes, reduced traffic congestion, and increased efficiency. 

Cavnue deploys private capital to develop the smart roads of the future and we are able to ensure continual innovation throughout the span of our partnerships. These two aspects de-risk any government’s desire to innovate and accelerate the benefits of advanced vehicles, and allow public funding to be utilized on core issues, such as state of good repair.  

The playbook for smart road deployment is already being written.

When searching for a public sector partner, Michigan was well-positioned as the home of the largest concentration of automotive and mobility corporate investment and has publicly committed to continuing to support future mobility systems and infrastructure through private/public partnerships and cross-industry collaboration. 

After an open RFP was issued in 2020, Cavnue was named Master Developer of a CAV Corridor in Michigan—the nation’s first deployment of connected and automated vehicle infrastructure technology. In July 2022, the State of Michigan made a statement to the world by enacting the nation’s first law authorizing automated vehicle roadways, allowing for the state to enter into agreements with private sector companies to deploy next-generation transportation infrastructure technology. By passing this legislation, Michigan has become the national leader in smart roadways before most of the country has even considered the possibilities.

The State of Michigan and Cavnue are ushering in a new era of advanced roadways and all of their associated benefits. After completing a robust feasibility study of the state’s roads and working collaboratively with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) earlier this year, Cavnue is underway with the deployment of our initial CAV corridor segment with plans to expand the network in the state. 

All of this has been accomplished with no monetary investment by the state. Cavnue has brought over ten million dollars in private investment to the state in addition to incredible industry support and collaboration from global automakers and leaders in self-driving tech committed to using smart roads to bring autonomy to scale. Paired with a supportive public sector partner and shared work plan with MDOT, we are well on our way to transforming how roads operate and setting a new standard for the roads in the future.

This first-of-its kind framework is testament to what is possible. It is a playbook on how to accelerate smart infrastructure deployments on public infrastructure. 

With all eyes on infrastructure for the first time in nearly a century, the time is now for states to plan for the future. 

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) has unlocked a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure to rebuild America’s roads, bridges, and rails—making long overdue improvements to our nation’s roads, ports, and railways. This marks the single largest commitment to our country’s infrastructure since the initial construction of the interstate highway system. Although the message is clear from the top—our country’s roads need improving—it is now in the hands of individual states to determine the best course of action to achieve safer, more efficient, and more equitable roadways for their residents. 

Other states must follow Michigan’s lead in assessing new solutions to address the future of vehicle technology needs as well as transportation system issues. Cavnue is developing a playbook to deploy the roads of the future which ensure the safety, equity, accessibility, and efficiency of travel  today and long into the future—and we are here to help.