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Sep 04 2019

Georgia to Test Connected Vehicle Tech on Stretch of Highway

A new living lab on a stretch of interstate aims to incubate connected highway technology.

Intelligent transportation systems built on sensors help municipalities respond to extreme weather events, improve traffic flows and enhance vehicle and pedestrian safety. But where will connected roadway technology go from here? Georgia wants to find out. 

In August, the Georgia Department of Transportation announced a plan to turn an 18-mile portion of Interstate 85 in southern Georgia into a test bed for connected vehicle technology, including vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity

The highway is known as The Ray, named after Ray C. Anderson, a Georgia businessman and environmentalist. There are several goals for the pilot, including using the data collected to help develop traffic management platforms. Another is to create the foundation for future connected highway technologies. 

A press release notes that the technology used in the tests will potentially be “implemented across the state to improve roadway safety, reduce traffic congestion, and improve organizational efficiency.”

GDOT is leveraging Pansonic’s CIRRUS data management platform for the tests, which Panasonic describes as a “V2X” (or “vehicle to everything”) system already being used in Colorado and Utah. 


Georgia Aims to Develop Connected Highway Infrastructure

GDOT will deploy six roadside units on the highway, which will send information from the connected vehicles to the CIRRUS platform, according to Government Technology. Four department vehicles will be loaded with onboard technology to send speed, location and direction data, and other vehicle data, such as when windshield wipers are used or when there is hard braking. 

“That data, by itself, doesn’t really tell you a whole lot,” Andrew Heath, a state traffic engineer for the GDOT, tells Government Technology. However, some of that data, such as when drivers are using their windshield wipers, could be used to send alerts to emergency responders or other drivers about road conditions, Heath says.

“In Georgia, we’re starting small with a trial of the platform capabilities to demonstrate functionality and benefits — in effect, turning The Ray into a learning lab to educate jurisdictions throughout Georgia (and the nation) about connected vehicle technology,” Chris Armstrong, a vice president for Panasonic USA and lead for the company’s V2X business efforts, tells Government Technology

The pilot could help Georgia develop the next generation of connected highway technology. By 2022, according to a press release on the project, it is estimated that there will be 105 million connected vehicles on the road communicating to each other and the roadside infrastructure, producing up to 150 petabytes of data per year.

GDOT has already installed hundreds of roadside units across the metropolitan Atlanta region, and has secured Federal Highway Administration funding allowing it to bring connected vehicle technology to 1,700 of the most heavily traveled intersections in metro Atlanta.

“By 2022, V2X-enabled vehicles will be rolling off assembly lines and onto roads,” Armstrong tells Government Technology. “If through this program, Panasonic is able to help GDOT plan for a future where they are benefiting from statewide deployment of this technology and the actionable information it provides, we’ve achieved our goal.” 

As part of the project, The Ray is working with the city of Peachtree Corners, which plans to unveil a 1.5-mile autonomous vehicle test track as part of its Curiosity Lab on Sept. 11, according to GCN. The city’s lab will explore vehicles traveling at slower speeds and their encounters with pedestrians. 

“We’re building an intermediate living laboratory for technology that graduates from the closed, isolated, controlled environment and integrates that into the real world but in a way that is manageable,” Peachtree Corners City Manager Brian Johnson tells GCN

The entire lab is supported by 5G and 4G LTE wireless infrastructure. “All of it is going to be tied in through the city’s own fiber-optic network that we own into a network operations center so all of this will be and under video surveillance,” Johnson tells GCN

“[From] one point you can watch the entire track, you can control different technology, you can collect data, you can integrate with other testers all at one location, which happens to be a large room inside of our technology incubator.”

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