CONEXPO: The Tech Experience showcases new, sustainable applications

ConExpo/Con-Agg runs through March 13 in Las Vegas

March 10, 2020
Allie Kelly of the Ray project talks it up at ConExpo 2020's Tech Talks
Allie Kelly of the Ray project talks it up at ConExpo 2020's Tech Talks.

ConExpo/Con-Agg got underway today in Las Vegas and even though the crowd felt thin relative to the last time this massive show hit the Strip, there was still much to see—and many new and exciting offerings on hand.

An editor’s time is precious in circumstances such as this—precious and thin. It is difficult to even prioritize, there is so much of value. Still, I was fortunate to see a couple of choice things at the Tech Experience.

The Tech Experience was unfortunately split between the Silver Lot, which is pretty central and has a nice footprint for foot traffic, as it were, and the Festival Lot, which was hell and gone from most everything else, as circumstanced by the intervening construction of the soon-to-come West Hall structure. Fortunately for me, my aims fell sharply in the Silver Lot.

The Ray is an 18-mile stretch of I-85 in rural Georgia that is fulfilling the goal of “going zero.” Zero death, zero carbon emissions, zero waste derived from the roadway. Ray executive director Allie Kelly calls it a “living laboratory” for new technology. In partnership with 3M and the Georgia DOT, as well as Panasonic, The Ray planners have repaved 13 miles of the corridor using recycled rubber tires to take a slice out of landfill and have outfitted the roadway with 3M’s Connected Roads striping, which contains a glass bead element making it readily detectable by connected (and autonomous) vehicles. Panasonic’s V2X Data Ecosystem aids dat transfer and analysis.

Kelly hopes that The Ray will serve as an exemplar for widespread adoption of new technology and sustainable methods, improve the environment, and ultimately save a ton of lives.

Jacob Roxon of MIT's Concrete Sustainability Hub discusses the CARBIN smartphone app at ConExpo 2020's Tech Talks
Jacob Roxon of MIT's Concrete Sustainability Hub discusses the CARBIN smartphone app at ConExpo 2020's Tech Talks

The Tech Experience also featured a session where Jacob Roxon of MIT's Concrete Sustainability Hub discussed the CARBIN app, which takes a crowdsourced approach to monitoring road performance. The key, Roxon, said, is prevention, not assessment or "cure." The crux of the presentation was that app monitors performance on road quality, traffic, CO2 emissions, and, interestingly, damage to vehicles' suspension.

The data is anonymous; data collection occurs 100x per second. As of now, the suspension system monitoring will be app-ready this summer, but the other features are geared up and ready. MIT's CSHub has a site, www.fixmyroad.us, that serves as a repository for all accumulated road quality data.

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