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Less Accidents, More Lanes

Autonomous Vehicles Likely to Improve Efficiency of Existing Infrastructure

By James Martinez 

The way University of Detroit Mercy civil, architectural and environmental engineering professor Utpal Dutta Ph.D., P.E., sees it – autonomous vehicles dominating the roadways one day will expand capacity without increasing the physical footprint, something essential to allowing transportation agencies to maximize revenue in the future and get more out of existing infrastructure.  

For example, three-lane divided freeways which now have three 12-footwide lanes, could feature four 9-foot lanes because of the precision autonomous vehicle technology is expected to bring. Currently that’s something that’s not safe with people behind the wheel. 

 “The accidents we have are just because of (human error), If you can take us out of the driving business, then there most likely are really no accidents,” Dutta said. “You don’t have to spend any investment and you don’t need any additional funding to make that three-lane freeway to four. Your capacities go up by at least by 25% without any big investment.”  

James Martinez is editor of the Detroiter magazine, and a content creation specialist