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Chinese city of Zhejiang to build first superhighway for autonomous vehicles

By now, you have probably already heard all about self-driving cars. They come in all shapes and sizes, and also serve many different purposes. But no matter what type of car it is, it is going to have one thing in common with all other types of self-driving vehicles: the use of roads.

They are cars, after all. So they are going to be running on roads that regular cars also use. But China wants to make sure that they can run as well as they possibly can by building a dedicated “superhighway” that is going to be meant specifically for self-driving vehicles. This is according to a report that said efforts to do so are already underway in the affluent Chinese province of Zhejiang.

According to the report, Zhejiang, China’s most economically developed province, will instill four key features in its upcoming self-driving vehicle superhighway. These are eco-friendliness, fast travel, high safety standards, and smart traffic control. It will be built parallel to another highway that is scheduled to be completed at some point in the future, the Hangzhou-Ningbo Highway, based on information from China’s national newspaper Science and Technology Daily.

The report further added that the key to this self-driving road’s construction is the development of a synergistic and fully integrated sensor-based system that will be used by all drivers, vehicles, and traffic control. This would result in a highly integrated road network monitoring and early-warning system, which can be switched on at all times in order to enable fast-speed travel without failing on any levels as far as safety is concerned.

According to Ren Zhong, a deputy head at the provincial transportation department, full autonomous driving will be supported all throughout the highway once it becomes ready for public use. The main question now is how long the proposed highway is going to be.

In terms of data, the self-driving highway is said to feature a Big Data-driven “cloud control” platform, which is expected to increase the average traffic speed by about 20 to 30 percent. This will probably have something to do with coordinating levels of congestion throughout the highway, thereby “telling” the autonomous cars how much faster – or perhaps slower – they can go. The maximum speed on the highway hasn’t been specified yet, though according to Zhejiang Vice Governor Gao Xingfu, it will be determined based on further progress in the research and development on the project.

It is said that the teams in charge of planning and the eventual construction of the self-driving highway are planning on installing solar panels and other photovoltaic power facilities in order to enable plug-in charging methods for any and all electric vehicles. For the long-term, the ultimate goal is said to be the addition of wireless charging capabilities so that vehicles don’t even need to be stopped before they can recharge their onboard batteries.

It will take a good few years before construction wraps up, but it is expected to finish some time before the opening of the 2022 Asian Games that is going to be held in Hangzhou, China. Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang, and serves as the cultural, economic, and political center of the region. So far, it sounds like many of the features planned for the self-driving highway are going to be very convenient for vehicles and drivers alike.

Check in on the progress of this project and read more about the future of transportation at

Sources include:

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