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Colorado is a state of all seasons. It’s equally known for its world-class ski resorts and snow, as it is for spring beauty and summer hikes across majestic landscapes. Interstate-70 serves as the spine of the road network to get from Denver’s airport to downtown and up into the Rocky Mountains.
Every year millions of travelers in Colorado face extreme weather, from 5,000 to 11,000 feet altitude driving and significant congestion on the I-70 Mountain Corridor, creating precarious road conditions and costing drivers billions in lost time and revenue.
To help solve these pressing challenges, Shailen Bhatt, Executive Director, CDOT, has announced a new project with HERE to deploy the first Vehicle-to-Infrastructure-based driver warning system over a cellular network in North America on the I-70 Corridor. The connected vehicle pilot project is part of CDOT’s larger initiative known as RoadX.
“The entire purpose of RoadX is to pair private sector innovation with public sector deployment as a conduit to safety. In the DOT, it’s our job is to save people’s lives and to make lives easier,” says Shailen.
A connected car equipped with sensor technology detects traffic incidents and road conditions on the I-70 Mountain Corridor. This information is then sent via the cellular network to the HERE Location Cloud and Digital Transportation Infrastructure (DTI) solution, which analyzes, verifies and validates the data with additional location information. The results are then distributed to nearby vehicles, warning drivers immediately. Simultaneously, the results are sent to a traffic management center which can react to upcoming situations in real-time, ensuring safe and efficient driving. All this happens in mere seconds.
The project builds on HERE’s work with the Finnish Transport Agency’s Nordic Way project which was the first deployment of HERE DTI in support of C-ITS (Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems) based on cellular networks, without any additional roadside infrastructure involved.
With the successful completion of phase one, transportation agencies can see a path to solving many challenges without additional costly roadside infrastructure. HERE is also working with the Dutch government to deploy a similar ITS program in the Netherlands.
Shailen understands that technology is transforming transportation. “My transportation experience is pretty much the same as my grandfather and father. On the other hand, my daughter, who is two, will have a much different experience because of things we are doing today.”
In the case of the I-70 Corridor, other options are tenuous and extraordinarily cost prohibitive. He says, “We can’t just widen the roadway by blasting away the mountain. There are environmental concerns and communities along the way. Traditional methods would cost billions of dollars. Technology allows us to ‘squeeze more ketchup out of the bottle.’“
“With HERE technology, we can potentially solve the problems for a fraction of the cost. It’s a win-win.”
What better time to pilot than during the unpredictable winter? CDOT believes the pilot will result in greater safety and higher efficiency on the I-70 Corridor and, if so, the technology can then be rolled out on other highways in the state.
According to Shailen, “Part of reason why connected and autonomous vehicles often originate from Silicon Valley is because the sun shines there nearly all the time. For much of the rest of the country, this is not true and the roads are not always clear. If we can make it work here, it will be scalable nearly anywhere.”
In fact, he’ll count this as a win too. “Part of the great tradition of innovation and transportation in our industry is that very few of us are reinventing the wheel. We are borrowing and honing existing great ideas. So if other states start to deploy the solution based on our project, it will be a mark of success."