Smart Cars or Smart Roads?

By now, it’s safe to assume that most of us have heard about the potential for self driving cars. Right now Google is leading the way with their sensor-equipped vehicles that use on board computers and GPS data for navigation.

Road Magnets

But what if instead of making cars smarter, we made roads smarter? Recently, Volvo conducted a research experiment that involved placing magnets below a roadway that would help cars detect their position. They believe that this approach to self-driving technology will have less occurrences of positioning inaccuracies, thus being a safer solution.

Although the idea is innovative, many believe that the idea just wouldn’t be financially feasible. There is about 4 million miles of roads in the United States and retrofitting existing roads with magnetic sensors would cost almost $40,000 per mile. And that’s not including the cost of maintenance.

Also, the roads are publicly owned and operated so governments would be responsible for implementing this new technology. With 32 percent of the nation’s major roads in poor condition, governments don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to road maintenance so who knows how long it would take to complete a road construction project to this magnitude!

So thanks but no thanks, Volvo. Although it sounds like a good idea in theory, creating magnet-fitted roads would take decades, not to mention billions of tax payer dollars.