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ODOT Explores Self-Driving Cars

A self-driving car by Waymo on the road.
Wikimedia Commons
A self-driving car by Waymo on the road.

We are likely still a generation away from seeing self-driving cars as the main mode of transportation. But for the Ohio Department of Transportation, the future is now.

When ODOT carries out a road construction project, the agency will now be looking at ways to make sure the road can accommodate automated vehicle technology in the future.

Jim Barna, ODOT's chief engineer, says having roads ready for self-driving cars will be an asset for Ohio’s growing urban areas.

“We can’t build our way out of congestion anymore, it’s just too expensive," Barna says. "We can’t just keep adding pavement to every facility. We think this technology may give us the additional capacity without having to add the pavement. So basically we’re looking at a much more reliable way of moving cars and trucks from point A to point B.”

This mindset is part of Drive Ohio, a collaboration among state departments meant to be a one-stop-shop for automated driving development in the state.

In a speech to the Ohio Transportation Engineers Conference last week, Gov. John Kasich warned that the rise of driverless vehicles could mean job losses for professional drivers in the state.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.