Colorado DOT and Panasonic to turn I-70 into USA’s most advanced connected roadway

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The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and its partner Panasonic Corporation of North America are building on their successful pilot program to begin the real-world deployment of the most advanced vehicle-to-everything (V2X) environment in the USA.

The expansion of the partnership represents the largest shared investment in connected V2X technology in the country. During the pilot deployment that was recently completed, CDOT and Panasonic successfully installed and tested five V2X roadside units (RSUs), six V2X vehicle onboard units (OBUs), and established a Network Operations Center to manage the overall system. These efforts set the stage for deploying the V2X system in a real-world environment along a major Colorado highway. By the end of the year, 100 RSUs will be in place along the I-70 Mountain Corridor from Golden to Vail.

By creating this connected system as an ‘internet of roads’, drivers and traffic managers will receive real-time information about road conditions such as traffic delays, icy conditions and crashes, through continuous and automatic communications between individual vehicles and roadside infrastructure. Once deployed, this system is projected to result in an 81% decrease in unimpaired multi-vehicle crashes, as well as more reliable travel times and, eventually, the ability to communicate with self-driving cars.

In addition to installing RSUs, more than 100 CDOT vehicles that regularly drive the I-70 Mountain Corridor will be equipped with technology that allows them to communicate information to and from the Traffic Operations Center. This is all part of Phase 1 of the program with Panasonic; the next phase will allow traffic managers to begin sending messages to connected vehicles via the RSUs, alerting drivers to upcoming roadway hazards, such as a crash or closure ahead, on in-vehicle screens delivered through the OBUs.

By the end of 2018, RSUs installed along the I-70 Mountain Corridor will be communicating with all equipped vehicles, providing real-time information to drivers and traffic managers. For example, drivers will receive alerts to slow down when vehicles ahead suddenly apply their brakes. If an airbag is deployed, an alert will be instantaneously sent from the vehicle to a RSU, so that traffic managers can immediately dispatch emergency responders and tow trucks to the exact site of the crash.

CDOT is projecting that a statewide V2X system will generate more than two billion safety messages per hour from vehicles. CDOT says to put that in context, Twitter averages 28 million tweets per hour globally. Based on that, the CDOT system will be managing and processing 70 times more volume per hour than is currently processed by Twitter.

By using the extensive amount of data available on road conditions from vehicles, sensors, cameras and other equipment, drivers can receive notifications about potentially unsafe driving conditions even before they begin experiencing traffic delays. Through the end of the project in 2021, CDOT and Panasonic will continue to announce major updates about the launch of the V2X environment to improve safety and mobility across the entire state.

“Car manufacturers worldwide are preparing for the future, so we must be prepared as well,” noted Amy Ford, CDOT’s chief of advanced mobility. “Toyota will be rolling out V2X-equipped vehicles in 2021, and Ford will have vehicles as early as 2020. When those cars roll off lots, who will have the environment for them to work in? Colorado.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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