Bismarck, ND – Self-driving cars on North Dakota roads might not be too far off. Lawmakers are considering multiple bills regarding autonomous vehicles.

A vehicle driving itself:

‘These are going to be either smaller vehicles or buses that would run in controlled areas that will be used for public transportation,” Rep. Dan Ruby (R-District 38) said.

Ruby says with the right laws in place, it could happen in North Dakota.

“A lot of it too is some of the basic stuff: are the vehicles required to be registered and carry insurance,” he added.

Those questions do not have answers yet. But after a Department of Transportation study this past biennium, Ruby has submitted a bill to address the new technology.

“They worked with a lot of groups, manufacturers of these types of vehicles and technology and came up with a footprint basically of what they would need to give them some flexibility with changing laws,” Ruby said about the study.

Bismarck City Engineer Gabe Schell said the vehicles could do a lot of good.

“Whether its a senior, a young person or a person with disabilities that might not be able to otherwise drive themselves would certainly be able to drive autonomous vehicles,” he said.

These self-driving vehicles are a part of Bismarck’s long-term transportation plan. But that plan requires a lot of preparation.

“Whether it’s just the roadway itself, the pavement markings that those vehicles would look for or the intelligent infrastructure whether its the fiber optic communication backbone so that we can talk to every one of our traffic signals and the traffic signals can talk to those autonomous or connected vehicles in the future. So those are the steps we can take now as far as providing that backbone link of data connectivity to all of that infrastructure,” Schell explained.

And Schell said it helps to have the state try to stay ahead of industry trends.