Driverless vehicle lanes studied for Foxconn plant

Driverless vehicles may help avoid traffic issues

Foxconn is pushing for transportation of the future in southeastern Wisconsin. The Taiwanese tech giant's leaders are asking for special lanes for self-driving vehicles - possibly along I-94.

Foxconn told the Wisconsin Department of Transportation they would like to have this special lane run from their plant in Mount Pleasant to Mitchell International Airport as a way to move products from their factory.

What appears to be the transportation of the future may not be as far away as some think.

"I personally feel it would be a wonderful addition to highways," said driver Nicole Hermes.

"As a driver I'm able to adjust with anything and I feel that's a good idea actually," added driver Sarita Scott.

Foxconn's vision of creating a special lane for autonomous vehicles on the highway would be first of its kind in the U.S.

"Clearly we're working with a high tech industry and a forerunner and their forefront on technology," said WisDOT spokesman Michael Pyritz.

Pyritz said the state is preparing a study to see if Foxconn's dream could become a reality in southeastern Wisconsin.

"Incorporating things like that into whether the manufacturing processes they use or how they get people and their product around is not really a surprising scenario," he said.

Johnson Controls in Glendale is already working on batteries for self-driving vehicles.

"The reality is we're not going to jump from the cars that are out on the road today to fully autonomous cars in one swoop,” said Johnson Controls strategist Craig Rigby. “The reality is there's going to be a progression of different levels of technology."

Rigby said fully automated vehicles on Wisconsin roadways are likely more than 10 years away due to testing and safety concerns.

"The potential of using this type of technology for commercial vehicles like over the road long-haul trucking is something that could make a lot of sense," he said.

Since this conversation is just beginning with Foxconn and WisDOT, Pyritz said they don't know if this special lane would be part of I-94 or a completely separate roadway.

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