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How Is Vermont Preparing For Self-Driving Vehicles?

A view from near the back window of a car looking at oncoming traffic and moving toward going under a bridge.
Gene J. Puskar
Associated Press File
This file photo shows a self-driving Uber on a road in Pittsburgh, as part of a media preview on Sept. 12, 2016. Joe Segale, a Vermont Agency of Transportation official, wants to see self-driving cars tested on Vermont roads.

There's been a lot of hype over the years about the future of autonomous vehicles – though mostly in cities, like San Francisco. But Joe Segale, the Vermont Agency of Transportation's director of policy, planning and research, would like to see self-driving cars being tested on Vermont roads.

"One of the reasons I'm interested in seeing these vehicles tested in Vermont is to see how they can handle driving on our backroads," Segale said.

Joe Segale is the Vermont Agency of Transportation's director of policy, planning and research. He’d like to see self-driving cars tested on Vermont roads.

He said he believes self-driving cars could have many benefits in a rural state like Vermont. For instance, Segale said artificial intelligence technology could keep drivers safe in snowy or icy weather conditions, and create more efficient and affordable modes of transportation.

He acknowledges that autonomous vehicles come with risks, including cybersecurity threats, potential job losses and liabilities in the case of accidents. But, he said, Vermont could be left behind if it's not prepared for a technology that may be inevitable.

Segale said he’s looking into how other states are preparing for autonomous vehicles, in order to help the Vermont Legislature determine how to move forward on the issue.

Listen to Segale's conversation with VPR's Mitch Wertlieb above.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Bayla joined VPR in 2018 as the producer for Morning Edition. She left in 2019.
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