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Self-Driving Vehicles Hit Northern Virginia

Joining California, Nevada, Michigan, Florida and Washington, D.C., Virginia will become the newest addition to the self-driving vehicle club.

by / June 3, 2015

Like a mechanical anticoagulant, self-driving vehicles are finding their way into some of the nation’s most congested roadways. Self-driving vehicles will soon be deployed along 70 miles of Northern Virginia’s newly dubbed Virginia Automated Corridors: Interstate 95, Interstate 495, Interstate 66, U.S. 29 and U.S. 50, researchers announced June 1.

The project, overseen by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, will add Virginia to the growing list of states with self-driving vehicles on their roadways: California, Nevada, Michigan, Florida and Washington, D.C.

Myra Blanco, director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s Center for Automated Vehicle Systems, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that Virginia is taking a different approach than other states by helping manufacturers, none of which have yet been specifically named for this project.

“Other states are saying you need to prove that independently you can do all this testing. What we are trying to do is show them how to do the testing and how to facilitate the process as well,” Blanco told the news outlet. “I think this is going to help us advance the technology and, even more important, to attract companies and satellite offices in the northern Virginia area to develop these new concepts.”

Self-driving vehicles will first be tested on private tracks — the institute’s Smart Road in Montgomery County and the Virginia International Raceway in Halifax County — before they're allowed on the roads, and once on the roads, the vehicles will be required to have a human driver behind the wheel for safety.