Lehigh Valley

LV Planning Commission prepares for driverless cars

LV Planning Commission prepares for...

Lehigh Valley officials are planning now for what they're going to do when driverless cars are on our roadways.

"Part of our responsiblity and obligation is to make sure that our communities are aware of this technology, how rapidly it's emerging, and of course the planning implications," said George Kinney, director of transportation for the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.

The commission sees many positives in autonomous cars.

"From a transportation perspective we believe it will help both congestion and safety," said Kinney.

So how soon could we see them in the Lehigh Valley?

"I'd say on the conservative side 15-20 years," he said.

It may actually be much sooner, though in a slightly different form.

Royal Truck and Equipment of Coopersburg builds a traffic vehicle known as a "crash truck". They block road workers from being hit by oncoming traffic.

Drivers of the trucks, though, face grave danger, which is why soon a computer will do it.

"It operates the gas pedal, the brake pedal, the transmission, the steering wheel," said Andrew Roberts, director of business development for Royal Truck & Equipment.

The automated trucks are being tested now, and should be on the road in at least one state in a few months.

"What this particular application will allow is a stepping stone toward public acceptance of autonomous technology over time," said Roberts.

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