DENVER (CBS4)– Denver Public Works is beginning to rollout new “smart vehicle” technology in their vehicles that could lay the foundation for dramatic changes in the Denver metro area commute. It seems like something out of the future, but it’s being put to the test now.
“Where this is heading is this traffic intersection would know that there’s 20 cars coming from this direction, 15 cars from that direction, that there’s an ambulance three minutes away and that there’s a pedestrian who needs 10 more seconds to cross and it would dynamically load balance all of that,” said Matthew McAllister.
He has been working with the City of Denver to make the transportation system smarter. To do that, they needed to drastically increase the amount of data they are getting.
“A lot what we’re doing out here is basically like turning on every single switch and making sure we are getting the maximum amount of data flowing, seeing every possible scenario play out.”
A federal grant is helping equip city vehicles with devices that will turn on a flow of data from the vehicle.
“It’s establishing that two-way communication between the person, us, and the infrastructure, the signal,” said Michael Finochio, an engineer with Denver Public Works.
He says this added communication of real-time data could help them make our commute smoother.
“Anything from a bridge freezing over to an accident taking place, we’ll know instantly and we can send that message out,” he said.
This includes the city’s fleet of snow plows, “[The plows] are going to say, ‘I’m coming through, the plow is down,’ and the light will be able to say, ‘Okay I’m going to give you a green light to accommodate that snow plow activity,’ or for an emergency vehicle, ‘I’m going to cut away right now and make sure the emergency vehicle can clear through the intersection safely,’” said McAllister.
Over the next few years the city hopes to test the technology and the infrastructure so as more and more cars learn to talk, they’ll be ready to listen.
“As more and more privately owned vehicles are hitting the road and market adoption increases, we’ve already built the plumbing layers and all of the data foundations to handle that and make it really useful for us,” he said.