Ann Arbor smart-road proving center launches

Center features technology aimed to improve road safety

Smart & Resilient Cities News Oakland Business Review September 28, 2007
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A new proving center has opened in Ann Arbor, Mich., featuring technology allowing vehicles to communicate with one another and with traffic infrastructure to improve road safety.

The multimillion-dollar Connected Vehicle Proving Center aims to promote emerging telematics technologies.

The center is a joint venture between Plymouth-based Connected Vehicle Trade Association and the Center for Automotive Research.

It received $3.15 million in startup funding from the state's 21st Century Jobs Fund and is poised to receive contributions of between $3 million and $8 million in products, networked facilities and services from other participants, said CVTA president Scott McCormick.

"The idea is to be attracting jobs to the state of Michigan," said Steve Underwood, director of transportation and information systems planning for CAR.

The proving center will allow for testing and evaluation by integrating connected vehicles, so-called smart roadway infrastructure and a range of telecommunications technologies. It will provide evaluation design, data storage and analysis and information sharing for customers including auto suppliers, OEMs, transportation agencies and communications firms.

The proving center also negotiating with Southfield city officials to establish wireless communication with a traffic signal, Underwood said.

"The idea is that as you approach the signal, you get a countdown timing for the change of the phase from green to yellow to red," he said. "If the signal's about ready to change, you'll get an upfront warning."

Other potential applications include hands-free communications, navigation and using sensors and cameras to help prevent or minimize crashes.

The technology could also help transportation agencies such as MDOT become more efficient and save money, said Greg Krueger, statewide intelligent transportation systems program manager for the Michigan Department of Transportation. For example, enabling each of the agency's snow plows to collect data including snowfall, temperature and road conditions could help MDOT better mobilize trucks during localized storms.

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