It is by now pretty much a given that the mania to cut taxes to enrich the wealthy has resulted in government being deprived of the necessary revenue to maintain its existing infrastructure and public spaces, let alone make any improvements to bring them into line with other developed nations. Anyone who has traveled to other developed and even many developing countries will immediately notice the difference in roads, airports, and other transportation systems and how the once-enviable public spaces of the US, such as its roads, parks, and libraries, are slowly decaying.
It turns out that the poor condition of roads in the US is hurting the development of self-driving cars.
Volvo’s North American CEO, Lex Kerssemakers, lost his cool as the automaker’s semi-autonomous prototype sporadically refused to drive itself during a press event at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
“It can’t find the lane markings!” Kerssemakers griped to Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was at the wheel. “You need to paint the bloody roads here!”
Shoddy infrastructure has become a roadblock to the development of self-driving cars, vexing engineers and adding time and cost. Poor markings and uneven signage on the 3 million miles of paved roads in the United States are forcing automakers to develop more sophisticated sensors and maps to compensate, industry executives say.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently called the mundane issue of faded lane markings “crazy,” complaining they confused his semi-autonomous cars.
The article goes on to explain what information the cars need to be able to navigate safely on public streets. About 65% of US roads are in poor condition, an astonishingly high number. In order to compensate for that and the lack of uniformity across the nation in how road markings and traffic lights are configured, cars that will be driven on US roads will have to incorporate much higher levels of technology to compensate, making them more expensive.