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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The AV industry has largely focused on the best technology for the cars themselves, not the roadblocks that current infrastructure will present to their deployment.

Why it matters: We may soon find ourselves with functional AV technology, but infrastructure so poor that in many places AVs cannot be safely deployed. The U.S. needs both basic improvements to its roads — to the tune of as much as $1 trillion — and also investment in a new generation of infrastructure that is smarter, more responsive and more sustainable.

Details: Beyond basic roadway repairs and improving visibility of road signs, several infrastructure improvements would have a particularly large impact.

  • Pavement with higher stress points will be crucial. AVs don’t drift in their lanes as much as human drivers do, so wear and tear will be focused on a fraction of the road. And connected semi-trucks traveling in"platoons" will give pavement less time to recover due to close following distances.
  • Recharging facilities and curbside parking will be necessary for ride-share fleets of electric AVs.
  • Vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity would allow AVs to pull data from the environment immediately around them, enhancing situational awareness. At a work zone, for example, connected barriers and signs could create a geo-fence that automatically slows down AVs and transmits navigation details for alternate routes.

What’s needed: To develop integrated solutions, automakers, tech innovators and infrastructure providers have to expand their collaborative efforts and include telecommunications, big data, energy and financial companies.

Where it stands: Some public-private collaborations are already underway.

  • Michigan's American Center for Mobility provides a complex and flexible roadway environment for testing AVs, but also for evaluating infrastructure solutions to support automated driving systems. ACM includes configurable urban, rural and highway environments.
  • Smart Columbus, another public-private partnership, is piloting AV technology on city streets to evaluate how vehicles interact with signs, traffic signals, pedestrian crossings, transit stops, complex intersections and other infrastructure.

Jim Barbaresso is SVP of intelligent transportation systems at HNTB, an infrastructure advisory firm.

Go deeper

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Tears, hugs, cheers as U.S. reacts to Chauvin guilty verdict

People react after the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

People across the U.S. rallied into the night Tuesday, cheering, hugging and crying tears of relief after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd.

Driving the news: After Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, Floyd family lawyer Ben Crump tweeted, "GUILTY! Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family. ... Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!"

Columbus police officer fatally shoots Black teenage girl

Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the fatal police shooting of a Black teenage girl in Columbus on Tuesday afternoon.

Of note: The shooting of the girl, identified by family members as Ma'Khia Bryant, 16, occurred just before the verdict was announced in the Minneapolis murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, and as the nation grapples with police reform.

European Super League faces collapse after English soccer teams quit

Fans of Chelsea Football Club protest the European Super League outside Stamford Bridge soccer stadium in London, England. Photo: Rob Pinney/Getty Images

The European Super League announced in a statement Tuesday night it's "proposing a new competition" and considering the next steps after all six English soccer clubs pulled out of the breakaway tournament.

Why it matters: The announcement that 12 of the richest clubs in England, Spain and Italy would start a new league was met with backlash from fans, soccer stars and politicians. The British government had threatened to pass legislation to stop it from going ahead.