In its patent, Google engineers detail the method for how sensors would find a marker to switch to autonomous mode and receive instructions from an Internet address over a wireless network. It also describes the design of an onboard computing device capable of handling the information needed for autonomous operation.
If we really want to make a serious investment in infrastructure, equipping roads and cars to help automatic driving would be one of the best long-term options. For example, I can see toll roads with automatically managed traffic, where a variable number of lanes is allocated to a certain direction during the day, depending on traffic patterns. Let's say, if the road has 10 lanes, in the morning it can give 8 lanes to "work"-bound commuters, then switch to 5+5 configuration during the day, then provide 8 lanes to "home"-bound cars in the evening. Of course, a dedicated narrow-profile commute vehicle can be developed to increase the number of lanes on existing freeways. Etc. etc. etc.
tags: transportation, system, control, payload, patent