The Automated Future: North Dakota Wants in on the Self-Driving Car Industry

You could say North Dakota is already the drone capital of the country. A new bill has been proposed asking for a stretch of Highway 83 to be used for another type of unmanned vehicle.

“At some time in the future you may see vehicles that may have somebody behind the wheel but their not actually driving the car,” said Marlo Anderson, Central North American Trade Corridor Association.

North Dakota has a chance to lead the self-driving car industry, but are they really safe enough to put on our roads?

“Maybe they’re own lanes.. maybe local driving.. not anything long distance or complicated,” said Ellen Paul of Mandan.

Last week, the US announced it will designate 10 cities around the country as test sites. The same day, North Dakota legislators and enthusiasts put their stake in the game. H. B. 1202 proposes a nearly 300-mile stretch of 83 be used for testing. Marlo Anderson testified at the hearing and says North Dakota’s varied weather makes it a prime spot.

“You combine that with highway 83 is four-lane, but it’s also a two lane. It goes through some cities but it’s basically rural,” said Anderson.

If the legislation passes it would make North Dakota one out of 6 states in the U.S. testing out self driving cars. and that’s only if we want to get ahead of the curve. If the session closes without any movement on the bill we could lose our spot in line.

“If we actually waited for another two years for the cycle to come through, we actually might start following the industry instead of leading the industry,” said Anderson.

Anderson also says more the trucking industry might be more of North Dakota’s niche for unmanned vehicles. They would use a combination of GPS and Google Maps-like technology to haul products.

“They can actually see pedestrians cars, deer stop lights and they can recognize these things,” he said.

Senator. Hoeven (R), Senator Heitkamp (D), Congressman Cramer and North Dakota Department of Transportation have already given their stamp of approval on the project.

The first hearing on the bill was last Thursday. It is now being examined to make sure it meets certain standards of potential testing companies.

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