Colorado to Develop Digital Highway Using Connected-Vehicle Technology

Source: Government Technology

The Colorado Department of Transportation has started a $70 million program, in partnership with Panasonic Corp. of North America, for the development of a “digital highway,” as the state sets the foundation for the rollout of “connected” vehicles that can share data with one another and transportation officials.

They will begin installing a network of roughly 100 roadside units along I-70 between Golden and Vail, a stretch of about 90 miles, and expects to have the digital corridor complete and operational by the end of the year. The roadside devices will be able to communicate with the state’s Traffic Management Center, as well as connected vehicles.

In the next three to five years, a number of automakers, including General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and Volkswagen, have announced plans to include connected vehicle technology on some or all of their cars.

The system will enable a “vehicle-to-everything” - known as V2X - an environment where cars can share billions of data points an hour related to speed and other operations, which are fed into the system to generate alerts and other information. With so much traffic data flowing into the state’s DoT, officials can analyze and manage traffic in ways that can only be dreamed of using current technology. The idea is to create a driving environment that operates more safely and efficiently.

The project comes on the heels of a smaller-scale pilot where Panasonic installed and tested five vehicle-to-everything roadside units, along with six of the onboard vehicle units, creating connected system officials have loosely called an “Internet of roads.”
The 90-mile I-70 corridor will mark the state’s first full-scale deployment of the system, and there are plans to use the technology all around the state. The I-70 route was picked for several reasons: variable terrain in an area that often sees rain, snow, and ice.

Installing the roadside units will cost about $2 million to $3 million, and the partnership with Panasonic - to develop the “data ecosystem” - is expected to cost about $10 million for the next five years. The Colorado project could be a leader in the emerging field of connected vehicles and highways. However, other cities and states are also beginning to experiment in this area.

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