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Mich. Officials Launch ’Smart’ Roads Initiative

The goal of the initiative is to establish the longest stretch of technology-enabled “smart’’ roads in the country, with the ability to “talk’’ with certain vehicles.

Thu September 10, 2015 - Midwest Edition
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DETROIT (AP) Highway officials are beginning to install sensors and cameras that will be able to provide construction, traffic and weather updates to motorists on roads near Detroit.

The Michigan Department of Transportation recently installed 17 of the devices along 20 mi. of Interstate 96 and I-696. The agency hopes to deploy sensors along 50 mi. of the expressways as part of its connected-corridor initiative.

The goal of the initiative is to establish the longest stretch of technology-enabled “smart’’ roads in the country, with the ability to “talk’’ with certain vehicles, The Detroit News reported.

Although no dealerships currently sell vehicles that can connect with the system, the 2017 Cadillac CTS is being developed as the first car with that capability. Several other automakers, including Ford Motor Co., and the University of Michigan are working with the agency to equip future vehicles with the necessary technology and address security concerns.

Once it’s fully implemented, the system will collect information such as location, speed and driving habits from vehicles that connect to the network, and then send the data to a virtual “warehouse,’’ where it will be analyzed, interpreted and shared with connected vehicles on the roadway.

In addition to alerting drivers about lane closures and the like, the system will be able to warn them about icy stretches of road and inform the Department of Transportation that salt trucks should be dispatched.

Testing for the project is being done at the University of Michigan’s Mcity, an automotive proving ground that’s aimed at helping the state take the lead in driverless-car technology, which opened last month in Ann Arbor.

“Adding this technology on roads around southeast Michigan is important, especially since it’s the home of the auto industry,’’ said John Maddox, assistant director of the U-M Mobility Transformation Center, which operates Mcity.

The knowledge that’s been gained through testing at Mcity and on the streets of Ann Arbor will improve driver safety and save gasoline by helping pick the most efficient routes, he said.

“It’s going to help move people and goods around southeast Michigan in the most efficient manner,’’ Maddox said.

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