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Autonomous vehicles could have a designated ‘hyperlane’

24 March 2017

UC Berkeley graduate students devised a plan to construct a ‘hyperlane’ that runs parallel to pre-existing roads, specifically for self-driving cars to travels at high speed.

Hyperlane concept design where autonomous vehicles move in high-speed traffic-free lanes on the right (Credit: Anthony Barrs & Baiyu Chen)

It’s a future that could exist as soon as 2050, according to the UC Berkeley students Anthony Barrs and Baiyu Chen. 

It would function much like a bullet train, which Barrs and Chen said influenced the concept of their design. In an interview with Fortune, Barrs said “we were inspired by high-speed rail in Japan. We realised we couldn't exactly do that in America, so we started to deconstruct the high-speed rail experience and that’s when we realised we could remove the tracks and deploy new, emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles."

The cars on the ‘hyperlane’ would not only move at an exponential rate but there would be various toll stations where the self-driving vehicles can get on or off like a motorway slip road. The hyperlane is monitored with embedded sensor technology that regulates the flow of traffic along with the vehicles built-in computers. 

Barrs and Chen believe their concept is relatively inexpensive as the hyperlane leverages existing infrastructure.

The pair were awarded $50,000 for their design at the Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge. The competition is hosted by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers in Las Vegas, aimed at addressing some of the biggest challenges facing the US’ infrastructure system.

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