The state of Virginia has decided to open up 70 miles of its public highways to companies that are developing self-driving cars.

The new Virginia Automated Corridors will be siturated in the north of the state and overseen by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). Anyone wanting to test a car on the public roads will have to submit their vehicle for testing on the Institute’s private smart roads, where they’ll be vetted for safety, reports Richmond Times-Dispatch. Like in other states, cars that pass the test will have to contain a safety driver when they’re used on public roads, as well as carrying special license plates provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Apparently Nokia is also to be involved with the Automated Corridors initiative, lending 3D mapping technology to those working in the area. Most autonomous vehicles rely on rich, accurate 3D maps of their surroundings to navigate city streets, using existing knowledge and newly acquired sensor data to understand their place in the world. It’s reported that Nokia’s contributions well help cars work out which lane they’re in with more accuracy.

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Virgina joins the likes of Nevada, Florida, California and Michigan in allowing autonomous cars on its roads. It’s expected the first self-driving cars will appear on its roads within the next twelve months—but it’s currently unclear which companies will turn their ignition in the state first. [Richmond Times-Dispatch via 9to5google via Engadget]

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