As regional leaders prepare for challenges that will result from the massive Foxconn plant in southeastern Wisconsin, the possibility of driverless vehicles is being studied as one way to deal with traffic issues.
State highway planners are studying the possibility of including special lanes for driverless vehicles on Interstate 94, said Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.
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There currently aren't highway lanes dedicated to autonomous vehicles, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation spokesman.
State money has been earmarked to widen I-94 to eight lanes and improve local roads as Foxconn develops a $10 billion flat-screen manufacturing plant in Mount Pleasant, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Milwaukee, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported . The facility could employ between 3,000 and 13,000 people, according to the Taiwan-based company.
State transportation planners are considering many options to deal with the plant's traffic, said Michael Pyritz, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation's southeast region.
"It's on the table," Pyritz said of dedicated lanes for driverless vehicles. "But boy, there's a lot of stuff on the table."
One possibility includes putting driverless lanes between the Foxconn plant and Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport to help move supplies and products to and from the factory, Sheehy said.
The autonomous vehicles are still in the testing stages.
Foxconn is best known for producing the iPhone for Apple. In Wisconsin, the company is receiving $3 billion in state incentives and could get as much as $764 million in local assistance and infrastructure spending for the new factory.
The company believes the panels built at the factory will be used in a number of different fields including crowd security, medicine, advanced manufacturing and driverless car displays.