Perhaps, but there is a growing consensus that Level 5 AVs won’t be on the roads for at least a decade. Who knows how much longer before there’s mass adoption.
I’m simply making the case that, in the interim, while they’re deploying fiber networks and dense 5G networks, cities and states should consider designing infrastructure and rights of way to accommodate sensors and roadside units. First, RSUs would primarily provide useful complementary and redundant information to on board computers. Second, RSUs would accelerate the development and use of Level 3 AVs in particular, but also have benefits for fully autonomous cars (traffic management, parking spaces, deliveries) and option value (smart city uses, drone deliveries).
The need for RSUs is not a new idea and not unique to me. There’s been years of research into how RSUs and vehicle ad hoc networks will interact. Now we’re actually seeing AV applications. Qualcomm, for one, is designing cellular products with RSUs and AVs in mind.
Further, the federal money for V2I is already being spent, including on RSUs. The 2015 FAST Act allows states and cities to spend billions on V2I systems. I think RSUs and V2I systems designed by cities’ favored vendors would largely be a waste. I’d like to see state and local governments spend that money designing and building basic, long-life cycle infrastructure like conduit, poles, and cabinets. Then lease those assets out and leave RSU device development to Silicon Valley and AV companies.