Published: November 30, 2015 | Tampa, FL
Tampa’s $17 million planned experimental venture into connected car technology will take center stage next week among hundreds of experts from across the nation gathered at the Florida Automated Vehicle Summit in Jacksonville.
Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority Executive Director Joe Waggoner will discuss plans Tuesday for the federally-funded pilot project, one of just three such ventures nationwide to win contracts form the U.S.Department of Transportation. “The CV technology we are piloting can transform Tampa into a national leader in transportation innovation safety and efficiency,” Waggoner said in written release about the Summit. Watch the below video for more information.
The table Frey is talking about is the connected car or so-called V2V (vehicle to vehicle) and V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) technology, what the U.S.DOT is counting on as the next generation of safety wizardry. Auto safety experts say will vastly reduce the number of crashes, deaths, and injuries across the nation.
“The idea is if we can all the cars equipped with this two-way radio technology so they can tell each other where they’re at and whether they’re coming or going you can get to the point whee you can avoid crashes, said John Capp, GM’s Director of Safety Engineering.
“We’re basically one of four places in the United States where this is going to be happening first,” Frey said. Other connected car experiments are or will be underway in Michigan, New York, and Wyoming.
Right now Frey and other partners—including the City of Tampa, HART, and the Center for Urban Transportation at USF, are designing what the connected car deployment will look like.
It basically involves wiring vehicles with GPS technology and telemetry that will enable cars to “talk” to each other through constant radio transmissions. They will share data about location, speed, and direction with each other and even communicate with traffic controls and possibly devices held by pedestrians.
The federally-funded Tampa deployment calls for 12 months of planning, 12 months of deployment and up to 20 months of analysis of data gathered during the experiment.
The goal is to ease congestion and alert drivers to hazards ranging from other crashes on the road to traffic backups they can avoid. Traffic lights can adjust in real time to keep cars moving most efficiently during rush hour. “Mainly it’s going to give them information to make better decisions,” Frey said.
As one part of the experiment Frey and others are considering whether to connect the vehicles of MacDill Air Force Base commuters to shorten their drive time and avoid unseen hazards that might be miles ahead of them. The Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, Channelside Dr., and Meridian Ave. will be wired to help the MacDill AFB drivers, transit buses and other commuters involved in the deployment..
“Letting them know which gate they can get into sooner so at points along the Expressway going to work in the morning they’ll be making decisions when they actually matter,” Frey said.
The kind of connected car technology coming to Tampa for a 12 month period next year was tested in Ann Arbor, Michigan in a deployment several years ago that included 3000 vehicles. Eight on Your Side recently visited Michigan for a demonstration of how connected vehicles and roadways can interact to save lives, time and money. University of Michigan researchers told us there was just one crash involving test vehicles in Ann Arbor during a year-long test period.
Currently, the Tampa connected car deployment is still in the blueprint stage but federal funding calls for connected wheels on the ground in about 10 months from now.
In contrast to current crash avoidance technology that relies on vehicles equipped with short-range sensors, connected cars will see trouble for miles ahead. GM plans to start installing the technology in some Cadillac production models in 2017. Eventually the federal government will require it on all new vehicles at an estimated cost of about $400 for each car, truck, or bus. Aftermarket devices will fit into used cars and possibly even smartphones carried by cyclists and pedestrians.
Eventually, automotive safety experts believe it’s’ going to dramatically improve road safety as much or more than seat belts and airbags.