The self-driving car logs more miles on new wheels

Chris Urmson @ Official Google Blog: The self-driving car logs more miles on new wheels:

“Our vehicles, of which about a dozen are on the road at any given time, have now completed more than 300,000 miles of testing. They’ve covered a wide range of traffic conditions, and there hasn’t been a single accident under computer control.
We’re encouraged by this progress, but there’s still a long road ahead. To provide the best experience we can, we’ll need to master snow-covered roadways, interpret temporary construction signals and handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter. As a next step, members of the self-driving car team will soon start using the cars solo (rather than in pairs), for things like commuting to work. This is an important milestone, as it brings this technology one step closer to every commuter. One day we hope this capability will enable people to be more productive in their cars. For now, our team members will remain in the driver’s seats and will take back control if needed.
And while these team members are commuting, many of them will be testing our algorithms on a new type of vehicle we’ve added to the self-driving car family over the past few months to help us refine our systems in different environments and on different terrain: the Lexus RX450h.

Rural Highway Expansion and Economic Development: Impacts on Private Earnings and Employment (working paper)

Michael Iacono and David Levinson (2012) Rural Highway Expansion and Economic Development: Impacts on Private Earnings and Employment. (Working paper)

With the interstate system substantially complete, the majority of new investment in highways is likely to take the form of selective capacity expansion projects in urban areas, along with incremental expansions and upgrades to expressway or freeway standards of existing intercity highway corridors. This paper focuses specifically on the latter type of project, rural highway expansions designed to connect smaller outstate cities and towns, and examines their effects on industry-level private earnings and local employment. We examine three case study projects in rural Minnesota and use panel data on local earnings and employment to estimate the impacts of the improvements. Our results indicate that none of the projects studied generated statistically significant increases in earnings or employment, a finding we attribute to the relatively small time savings associated with the projects and the maturity of the highway network. We suggest that for rural highway expansion projects, as with other types of transportation projects, user benefits should be a primary evaluation criterion rather than employment impacts.