>> Self driving cars going for a spin in DC and drumming up excitement.>> It's the future for automobiles.>> But there's a very low tech problem for that future, says Reuters reporter Alexandria Sage.>> Self driving cars rely on clear unambiguous lane markings in order to know where they are on the road.
The problems happen when the lane markings are non existent or faded. Or give confusing meanings to the car. That's the case on this road here where you can see there are two pieces of asphalt that have come together. And that seam could possibly tell the car that this is the lane.
>> It's no secret that America's roads are gauntlet of pot holes, detours, and faded lane markings. About two thirds of them are in poor condition according to the Transportation Department and there's little money in government budgets for big fixes. It's a pet peeve of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently called the issue of shoddy landmarkings, quote, crazy, claiming it confuses his cars.
So to help cars navigate these bad roads, automakers are having to invest in more sophisticated sensors, radar, lidar. And they're still expensive and still bulky. Another solution is 3D maps.>> 3D maps are created by hundreds of cars like this one, that map not just the road, but everything else around it, buildings, trees, sidewalks, with little tiny dots.
>> This even works when the physical infrastructure is not there. So if a vehicle is driving on a freeway say, with faded lane markings, the map will contain that information and give all that context to the vehicle in the absence of the senses, seeing it themselves.>> But getting all the cars to drive across America and across the world to render a 3D dot picture map will take time.
So expect to keep your hands on the steering wheel for another ten years.