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Self-driving cars are unlikely to be a common sight on America’s roads for several years. But that hasn’t stopped the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for preparing for their arrival. Caltrans will be placing six-inch stripes along Interstate 5, between Orland, California, and the Oregon border.

The work will be performed through June 2018, and new strips will replace the current four-inch stripes. The longer stripes will help self-driving vehicles to read and navigate roads in the coming evolutionary shift.

Longer, brighter highway stripes with held with autonomous driving.
Longer, brighter highway stripes with held with autonomous driving.

The new stripes’ makeup varies between a thermoplastic material and another similar tape. the former has a longevity of between two and three years; the latter is expected to last five years;

Both materials are made with miniscule glass beads that boost the stripes’ brightness by around 10 times. It obviously greatly improved visibility to both human drivers and autonomous cars.

While it isn’t yet legal for civilians to ride self-driving cars, the manufacturers behind the vehicles are performing testing across the country’s highways and frontage roads.

Such brands as BMW, Honda, Roadstar.Ai, Tesla Motors, Apple Inc., Samsung, and others, will continue running autonomous testing in the foreseeable future. Safety is the key concern.

Fifty manufacturers have been granted the necessary permits to perform testing on their self-driving cars. More than 360 vehicles are undergoing experimentation to assess their performance in a real-world environment.

Installment of the new stripes will cost approximately $6.8 million. The stripes already laid in District 2 (the area running from Tehama County to Oregon’s border, and from Humboldt County to Nevada’s state line) have to be repainted each year. The cost of the current annual isn’t cheap.

Every state highway will receive the new six-inch striping in the future, but Interstate 5 will be the only one to undergo the change in the near future.

The self-driving cars set to transform the world’s roads are expected to reduce accidents and leave drivers with far more disposable time. Cases of road rage and loss of control due to exhaustion or a health crisis could also be cut significantly too. It will make transportation a safer, less frustrating activity.

However, this is a long way away. Experimentation and testing needs to continue, and only a small portion of consumers will actually be able to afford the earliest waves of automated cars available to the public.

As a result, the country’s roads will still consist of standard vehicles with humans at the wheel – making the usual mechanical issues as common as ever. A specialist in car towing in Los Angeles stressed that towing firms will “still be responding to breakdowns, collisions and other everyday calls.”

Until every car is automated and able to recognize those vehicles around them with precision, there still dangerous elements to driving. Even then, however, the software governing their behavior may still be prone to mistakes, requiring drivers to stay alert.

California’s preparation of Interstate 5 for self-driving cars is a major first step in accepting self-driving cars as a reality. And there are many more steps to come before the future arrives.

Content provided by Daniel Fialko

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