Auto-makers say the U.S. could be on the verge of a self-driving car revolution, if only the country's road system and infrastructure was able to keep up. Nathan Frandino has more.
With the rise of autonomous vehicles, car makers and transportation experts say, they're driving into the future. But as they turn the corner, they're hitting some major road blocks...specifically a crumbling U.S. infrastructure. Paul Lewis is the vice president of policy for the Eno Center of Transportation think tank. He says the advancing technology will only go so far. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PAUL LEWIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF POLICY FOR THE ENO CENTER OF TRANSPORTATION THINK TANK, SAYING: "That technology has progressed pretty rapidly over the last couple of years. But on the other hand that does not work very well when it's raining or it's snowing or the road has water on it or any kind of precipitation or if road markings are either not very well marked or they're falling apart or anything like that." Lewis and other experts believe crumbling roads, poor markings and uneven signage could delay America's self-driving car revolution for years. With an estimated 65 percent of U.S. roads affected, it's costing millions to adapt autonomous cars to drive on them. Some of that time and money is going into tools like radar and lidar. Lidar can help produce a 3D map that provides the car's location on the road within centimeters. John Ristevki is vice president of reality capture at the German location intelligence company HERE. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN RISTEVSKI, VICE PRESIDENT OF REALITY CAPTURE AT HERE, SAYING: "And this even works when the physical infrastructure is not there. So if a vehicle is driving on the freeway with, say, faded lane markings, the map will contain that information and give all that context to the vehicle in the absence of the sensors seeing it themselves." Transportation officials hope that greater acceptance of self-driving cars will mean more political pressure for better roads... but until that happens, self-driving cars may be left idling at the starting line.