Ohio City to Begin the Largest Real-World Test of Connected Cars in the U.S.

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【Summary】The town of Marysville, Ohio is connecting all of the city's traffic lights to 1,200 privately-owned and government vehicles in the largest real-world test of connected vehicle technology in the United States.

FutureCar Staff    Dec 29, 2018 6:00 AM PT
Ohio City to Begin the Largest Real-World Test of Connected Cars in the U.S.

In January of this year, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed an Executive Order establishing DriveOhio, a division of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) tasked with developing a framework for the State's smart mobility initiatives. DriveOhio is designed to be a single point of contact to coordinate state agency assistance in developing self-driving vehicles, "smart" roads and other technology, as Ohio looks towards a future as a burgeoning high-tech region.

One such project includes connecting all of the traffic signals in the town of Marysville to 1,200 private owned and government vehicles in the largest real-world test of connected vehicle technology in the United States. The vehicle will be equipped with sensors, transmitters and digital displays to communicate with all of the city's traffic lights.

Connected vehicle technology  (V2V) or V2X (vehicle to infrastructure) connects vehicles to each other using 4G networks, or can be used to connect a vehicle to other infrastructure, such as a cameras or other sensors near the road.

The city and Ohio Department of Transportation's DriveOhio initiative will begin by installing smart-intersection equipment at four locations this month, and go citywide by the end of the year.

"This technology is going to disrupt transportation for the better like we haven't seen since the creation in the interstate system," DriveOhio Executive Director Jim Barna said in a release.

The first smart demonstration at a busy downtown intersection used technology developed over the past year by Honda R&D Americas Inc., the research arm of Honda Motor Co. The system of cameras and artificial intelligence transmits a warning to a dashboard display if a pedestrian is crossing out of sight around a corner, or an emergency vehicle or red-light runner is approaching.

DriveOhio wants to expand the functionality so vehicles not only receive the messages but can transmit data about traffic and road conditions to other vehicles.


A display unit on this Honda vehicle alerts the driver to an ambulance in the intersection ahead.

The initiative will start placing transmitters and displays on 800 government fleet vehicles and 400 cars and trucks owned by volunteers. Participating government fleets include the Ohio DOT and Marysville police, fire and school district vehicles.

"That's about 10 percent of the traffic here, making it the highest concentration of connected vehicles in the country," Mike Andrako, Marysville public services director, said in a release. "That's important because it shows us how the technology will work when it's is rolled out to more cars and larger cities across the U.S."

The vehicles would communicate with each other and report speed, direction of travel and other vehicle data to roadside sensors that in turn report the data to the ODOT Traffic Management Center. The data is collected anonymously from the vehicle, so it does not identify the cars or trucks.

The agency explained how the system would work. For example, if several reports show that a vehicle's anti-lock brakes are activated (indicating loss of traction) in a short span on the same section of road, it could indicate icy road conditions. In this case, the ODOT could dispatch more salt trucks and send alerts to other drivers on that road warning other drivers to the upcoming ice hazard.

In another example, during peak travel times, vehicle data can be used to make real-time adjustments to traffic light timing to keep traffic moving freely, or opening highway shoulders for use as an extra lane during rush hour to reduce bottlenecks.

The smart intersection rollout is part of the $20 million Rt. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor testing connected and autonomous vehicles from Marysville to Dublin, a distance of 16 miles. The funding for the project comes from federal, state and local sources.

ODOT has not yet projected the final cost of equipping 1,200 vehicles and Marysville intersections.

The Columbus office of Pittsburgh-based engineering consultant Michael Baker International is managing and overseeing mobility corridor projects. Another company, AECOM Technical Services Inc., is developing statewide standards for connected and autonomous vehicles so the results can be replicated in other cities around the U.S.

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