Las Vegas making plans to digitize more roadways for self-driving cars

Posted at 9:54 AM, Mar 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-13 13:49:30-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The normal driver won't be able to notice the physical changes, but soon, more roads across Las Vegas will be able to transmit information to self-driving cars.

Since CES 2019, local engineers have been working on ways to make more roads across the valley smarter by digitizing roadways. Any information on speed limits, school zones, crosswalks, or other information can be formatted so autonomous vehicles can recognize it. The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada is using software firm Inrix to do the digitizing.

Right now, two small areas in the valley are already digitized, including a loop in downtown that was used for the self-driving shuttle, and an area outside the Las Vega Convention Center.

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"A lot of [our plans] focus around the convention center and the Las Vegas strip," says Theresa Gaisser, the principal project engineer with RTC.

Even though self-driving cars can already navigate roads using sensors, drivers may have to occasionally interfere. Digitizing would allow the car to directly connect with a smart road, filling in any gaps where the car might be missing some information. It's essentially an added layer of safety and security.

Not everybody has a self-driving car, but you may find yourself inside one. Right now in Las Vegas, you can hail a prototype self-driving car through the app Lyft. They partnered with auto-parts company Aptiv to equip a small fleet of self-driving ridesharing vehicles in the valley.

Transportation officials believe this is the future of driving, and believe more and more drivers will be switching to autonomous vehicles in the near future.