iPhone maker Foxconn wants a highway for driverless vehicles in Wisconsin
Foxconn is best known as the contractor that builds iPhones and Kindles, but now it’s taking on a less familiar role: self-driving car proponent.
The Taiwan-based manufacturer with factories in China is building a new plant in Wisconsin, a plan praised by President Trump when he visited the site back in June. Foxconn has said the facility, which makes LCD displays, will create 13,000 jobs.
As part of the deal, the company received billions of dollars of tax breaks and incentives. About US$400 million is slated for rebuilding an interstate freeway.
That plan includes adding two lanes outfitted with autonomous vehicle support, allowing Foxconn and other businesses to transfer goods, equipment and even workers in driverless vehicles -- according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Officials didn’t elaborate on details.
Foxconn told the newspaper that it wants autonomous cars to be a key part of its operation, especially within the plant (scheduled to open by 2020). A recent video from the company illustrates an autonomous car zipping through the new campus, as well as what looks like a self-driving train inside a transparent tunnel called The Tube.
But despite the hype surrounding driverless cars, critics believe they are far from ready for the real world.
Just last month, a report by The Information suggests Waymo -- the Google spinoff widely regarded as a leader in self-driving technology -- is still sorting out kinks related to their autonomous taxis. Around Waymo’s neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona, people say they saw Waymo cars braking abruptly, or waiting forever to cross an intersection.
In a McKinsey survey in April, more than two-thirds of mobility experts said the safety issues around self-driving cars won’t be solved before 2025.