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VTTI Smart Road expansion puts safety at forefront

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute broke ground, announcing four new projects that they hope will make self-driving cars a reality. (Photo: WSET)

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WSET) -- The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) broke ground Tuesday, announcing new projects they hope will make self-driving cars a reality.

VTTI's Smart Road, a section of an interstate highway, is where they can create hazardous conditions like rain, snow and fog, for their self-driving cars.

Their new facilities will expand the length of the Smart Road to include a Rural Track.

"Automated vehicles and robotic taxis are going to have to operate on all kinds of different roadways and in cities and in things like that," said Tom Dingus, VTTI Director.

They find this to be important since not every road traveled will be urban or suburban.

Dingus shared that VTTI's goal is to save lives.

"You have to truly look at the intersection of all of those, the human factors as well as the technology factors and safety is paramount," said Karen Jackson, Virginia Secretary of Technology.

The National Safety Council said their vision is to eliminate preventable deaths.

They shared that they think all motor vehicle deaths are 100 percent preventable.

"Hopefully in the not too distant future we'll be able to get in a car, program where we want it to go and let it take us there," Jackson said.

Of the four new spaces, VTTI will begin using two.

They revealed that the rural track will open in 2018.

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