Along the 20 miles of Interstate 96 and I-696 in Metro Detroit, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) made a bold move and set up its first sensors and cameras that will be able to communicate with certain vehicles in order to help drivers avoid construction, traffic or weather hazards.
This system is the beginning of what will be the longest stretch of technology enabled “smart” roads in the U.S. and could stand for a step further regarding self-driving cars. This is part of MDOT’s connected-corridor initiative that will use the latest cars and infrastructure technologies to make for safer roadways and why not, fewer fatalities. The department is looking to use sensors along 50 miles of the expressways.
Cars that are available in showrooms at the moment cannot connect with the system, but there is one car with the right capabilities, the 2017 Cadillac CTS, which is not that further from being launched. There are other auto companies interested in partnering with MOD as we speak, Ford Motors Co. working to equip its future units with the necessary technology for these roads.
The 17 sensors and cameras that are implemented between Milford Road and Orchard Lake Road are small nondescript devices using antennas, which are installed on power poles and on top of spotlights. They gather information like car location, speed and driving habits from vehicles that are connected to the network. The data collected goes into a “warehouse” that analyzes and interprets it to convert it into information that can be shared with other connected cars on the roadway.
MDOT explained that their purpose at the moment is not to pursue people into using this sort of connected technology, but rather work with as many auto partners as possible in order to use this type of technology into their future cars so that people can then turn to it.