A new highway in China is being built that will have dedicated lanes for autonomous vehicles, according to FutureCar.com. The lanes reserved for self-driving cars will be built on a new freeway connecting Beijing and the Xiongan New Area in Hebei province. The area is located about 60 miles southwest of Beijing. The 100-kilometer (62 mile) freeway will be open to two-way traffic, with two of the eight lanes specially designed for autonomous vehicles, according to the Beijing Capital Highway Development Group Co. Construction on the project will begin this year. The speed limit on the highway will range from 62 to 74 mph.
The stretch of highway will also include intelligent road infrastructure and smart-toll facilities. This intelligent infrastructure system can acquire vehicle data and road information through wireless communication and internet technology, improving traffic flow and safety.
When the Beijing-Xiongan freeway is complete, travel time from the capital city of Beijing to Xiongan will be cut to one hour from the current two and a half hours, according to the outline.
The highway is one of several planned for the region. An outline for the Xiongan New Area lists four north-south freeways and three east-west expressways which will be built linking Xiongan with surrounding cities, including Beijing, Tianjin and cities in Hebei.
The Xiongan New Area is part of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (Jingjinji) economic triangle, the biggest urbanized megalopolis region in Northern China. The development of the area is part of China’s massive economic development plan over the next century.
Its present main goal is to bring together Beijing’s universities, research institutes, medical institutions, corporate headquarters, financial institutions and public institutions to the region. When completed the area will eventually become a “smart city” the size of Tokyo. The new megacity will be designed around self-driving vehicles, eliminating the problems associated with adapting existing infrastructure to cope with a mix of human-operated and autonomous vehicles and pedestrians.
China hopes to use Xiongan as a model for future cities worldwide. In addition to new highways, construction of a high-speed railway linking Beijing and Xiongan started in February 2018 and is expected to begin operation by the end of 2020.
During a tour of Xiongan in January, China’s President Xi Jinping described the Xiongan New Area project as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and encouraged state-owned and private companies to help make it a success.