Self-driving cars in Wisconsin might soon have their own lane on the highway, if Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn gets its way.
The lane, which would be the first exclusive self-driving car lane in the United States, would be part of the I-94 highway, which extends from Montana to the Canadian border with Michigan. Foxconn’s request comes as the Milwaukee region prepares for as many 13,000 employees stemming from the Taiwanese company’s new investment in the state.
State money has already been dedicated to widening I-94, leading Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, to think the state was “ahead of the curve” on traffic issues, he tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“And we were all dumbstruck when they looked at us and said, ‘So where’s the autonomous vehicle lane?’”
It’s unclear if Foxconn would want the lane for testing, shipping, or merely anticipating a shift towards autonomous driving in the future. In the Journal Sentinel, Sheehy credits the discrepancy to Foxconn’s long-term vision. “We’re thinking about two years down the road; they’re thinking 20 years down the road.”
Wisconsin efforts into self-driving cars have made progress on their own, but have been hampered by the same worries that have struck nationwide. Recently, federal administrators put a hold on the Wisconsin Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds project due to a recent self-driving crash in Las Vegas. Governor Scott Walker has issued an executive order creating a committee on self-driving cars and “connected vehicles,” which hopes to offer policy submissions by 2018.
Foxconn, the largest private employer in China, has a reputation for pushing legal limits placed on it by various governments. Most recently, the release of the iPhone X, built in Foxconn factories was marred by “widespread labor rights violations,” according to reports in Newsweek. This comes after years of such accusations, the company has consistently said its actions are justifiable under law.