Special lane markings for autonomous vehicles (AVs) developed by 3M have been deployed along Georgia’s real-world proving ground for new transportation infrastructure technologies, in order to improve driver safety and better facilitate the testing of self-driving vehicles.
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), 3M and The Ray testbed have announced that all lanes of the 13 miles (21km) of Interstate 85 in Troup County, from the Georgia-Alabama border to Exit 13-LaGrange, are now marked with 3M’s Connected Roads All Weather Elements striping technology. The announcement follows the recent repaving of that interstate stretch, now known as The Ray, which has become a national proving ground for transportation technology and innovation. Named in memory of Ray C Anderson, a pioneering Georgia sustainable business leader, The Ray has already been equipped with a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) data ecosystem by project partner Panasonic to facilitate the testing of connected vehicle (CV) technologies.
Designed specifically to work better with the sensors used by advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and AVs, 3M’s Connected Roads All Weather Elements provide enhanced visibility daytime, night-time and in dry or wet weather conditions, which is made possible with unique 2.4 (wet) and 1.9 (dry) refractive index bead technology. The product features unique 3M microcrystalline ceramic beads that are tougher and more efficient than other glass-beaded optic systems for superior performance and can be optimised for both dry and wet roadway conditions.
The public-private-philanthropic partnership between GDOT, 3M and The Ray will continue in 2020, as 3M delivers additional and innovative road infrastructure and safety products as part of the company’s development work in the growing area of enhanced technology for pavement markings and other roadway infrastructure that are compatible with, and improve the behaviour of, ADAS equipment and CAVs. This installation is the latest in a series of smart technologies installed on The Ray in 2019, such as Panasonic’s Cirrus V2X platform and roadside equipment.
“As traffic technology experts, we are committed to advancing road safety and we are honoured to join The Ray’s smart highway with important infrastructure that helps improve guidance for both drivers and machine vision-equipped vehicles,” said Dr Daniel Chen, vice president and general manager for 3M’s transportation safety division. “By implementing all-weather retroreflective pavement markings that deliver exceptional visibility and clear, consistent lane guidance in all conditions, Georgia DOT is taking a step to advance safety for their motorists.”
Harriet Langford, president and founder of The Ray, said, “This is striping that supports autonomous vehicles with machine vision systems; day, night, rain, or shine. Our goal, which we share with Georgia DOT, is to build a safe ecosystem, on a public interstate, that can accommodate advanced vehicle testing, and 3M is a critical step in that direction.”
GDOT commissioner, Russell R McMurry, noted, “Our number one priority is safety for the traveling public. The installation of this new technology enhancing pavement marking visibility is a perfect example of Georgia DOT’s and The Ray’s mutual commitment, with the assistance of 3M, to create an innovative, safer and more sustainable highway.”