More cars, but fewer drivers?

Some supporters are calling the idea of creating a pathway for unmanned vehicles through the United States from Canada to Mexico a “visionary” plan. But is it a realistic plan?

The Central North American Trade Corridor Association is pushing an initiative to create regulations for driverless vehicles both in the air and on the ground. Within five years, the association hopes to create a trial corridor, potentially from Bismarck to Minot or Pierre, S.D., to test the technology.

Steve Pederson, acting chairman of the association, said transportation modes are changing and that the driverless vehicle plan is “very visionary.” The system would need locations along the route to fuel and service the vehicles and drones, creating business opportunities for local communities, according to supporters.

There’s no doubt that transportation methods will see substantial changes in the coming years, but we wonder if North Dakota, or any other state, is ready for driverless vehicles on our roads and unmanned drones in our skies. But every new technology brings with it a host of issues and concerns. We realize the idea is in its infancy stage and supporters are still simply trying to raise awareness of emerging technology, but would such a system be reliable? How much would it cost to create? Would it be safe?

North?Dakota’s roads have become much busier in the past few years, with more vehicles associated with the oil industry and other growing sectors of the business world traveling through the state. How would driverless vehicles fit into that? And given the recent concern over the growing potential use of drones in the business world, what sort of regulations would need to be in place before such a system could even be considered?

Obviously, North Dakota is not ready for such a system, and likely wouldn’t be for quite some time. Supporters certainly recognize that, but the idea is at least worthy of discussion.