/ Roads / CDOT and Panasonic Take First Steps to Turn I-70 into Connected Roadway

CDOT and Panasonic Take First Steps to Turn I-70 into Connected Roadway

Parul Dubey on July 30, 2018 - in Roads, Technology, Transportation

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

This partnership represents the largest shared investment in V2X technology in the United States. During the pilot deployment that was recently completed, CDOT and Panasonic successfully installed and tested five V2X roadside units and six V2X vehicle onboard units, 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 roadside units will be in place along the I-70 Mountain Corridor from Golden to Vail.

By creating this connected system—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 percent 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 roadside units, 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 roadside units, alerting drivers to upcoming roadway hazards—such as a crash or closure ahead—on in-vehicle screens.

“Car manufacturers worldwide are preparing for the future, so we must be prepared as well,” said CDOT Chief of Advanced Mobility Amy Ford. “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.”

By the end of 2018, roadside units 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 roadside unit, so that traffic managers can immediately dispatch emergency responders and tow trucks to the exact site of the crash.

“Colorado is a global leader in creating an environment where V2X technology can thrive,” said Jarrett Wendt, executive vice president at Panasonic Corporation of North America. “Their openness to deploying new technologies in a real-world setting is an exciting and innovative approach, allowing them to attract top industry talent and private investment to the state. And most importantly, deliver on their mission to improve the safety of Colorado roadways.”

CDOT is projecting that a statewide V2X system will generate more than 2 billion safety messages per hour from vehicles. To put that in context, Twitter averages 28 million tweets per hour. Based on that, the CDOT system will be managing and processing 70 times more volume per hour than is currently processed by Twitter. By leveraging the extensive amount of data available on road conditions (from vehicles, sensors, cameras and more), 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 all of Colorado.

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