- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A trade group wants to create a pathway for unmanned vehicles through the central U.S., from Canada to Mexico.

The Central North American Trade Corridor Association is launching an initiative to develop regulations for driverless vehicles on the ground and in the air.

“It’s a proven but still emerging technology,” association member Bill Davis told The Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/1gwIxDZ ). “In the first step of this project, we’re trying to create interest and awareness. The more effective we can be with transport, the more competitive we can be economically.”

One roadblock is that the emerging technology is ahead of regulations. Another is that major railways and roads in the middle of the country move east to west, and there is a lack of north-south avenues, association member Marlo Anderson said.

“The challenge is to find ways to better utilize our north-south routes,” he said.

Within five years the association hopes to have a trial corridor, possibly from Bismarck to Minot, or to Pierre, S.D., to prove the technology, Anderson said. Ports would need to be developed to fuel and service the vehicles and drones, creating a business opportunity for local entrepreneurs, he said.

“I think it’s very visionary,” said Steve Pederson, acting chairman of the association. “Ten years from today, things are going to be a lot different than they are now in transportation.”

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com