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New Tech Hits the Roads in MI with V2V, Autonomous Driverless Track & Solar Charging Roads

UM Autonomous Driving TrackConnected car technology is hitting the road in Michigan through two initiatives, the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center was recently launched focusing on emerging technology in collaboration with the government and transportation industry to make improvements to travel for both humans and cargo.

In Ann Arbor there are almost three thousand connected vehicles operating as part of a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Institute(UMTRI).  Cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles are equipped with V2V wireless devices that communicate to each other, intersections and street lights.  The study is test for safety, collision alerts and feasibility of autonomous robotic driverless vehicles.

The U.S. Department of Transportation using the information in U-M studies concluded from the studies that V2V technology improves road safety. So far over 4 million road trips and 25 million miles of travel have been tracked in a year and a half.

U-M wants to take the research project to the next level for better accuracy and make then number of vehicles in the study 9,000.  U-M plans to build a $6.5 million autonomous vehicle test track with cross walks, side walks, merge lane, fire hydrants, roundabouts, building frontage, tunnels, bike lanes and parking meters to simulate real-life driving conditions.

Michigan is planning to have 2,000 driverless vehicles operating on the road by 2021.

Update 5/2/2014: Connected car tests in Ann Arbor, show that vehicle data can be used to change traffic lights and routing in real time, proving that it’s is possible to ease some of the pressure on expensive and overcrowded infrastructure. The network is being expanded to include bicyclists, motorcyclists and smartphone carrying pedestrians.

The Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) announced that it is working toward implementing high-tech communication technologies that will allow roads to communicate with the vehicles driving on them.

This technology is expected improve safety and alleviate congestion by allowing vehicles to maintain constant communication with the roads and each other, while sharing collective data about road conditions, traffic, weather and overall speed.

Safety applications are currently being developed in collaboration with GPS systems, traffic services and weather reports. Traffic signals will be able to tell upstream motorists that traffic is heavy at the intersection ahead, while GPS services could suggest an alternate route.  RCOC is also looking at  Solar Energy Roads tough solar panels that charge cars as they travel on them

The RCOC will play a key role in the ITS WORLD CONGRESS, the largest transportation technology conference, when it comes to Detroit in September.