State Transit Authorities Develop “Smart Roads”

A handful of states are responding to the smart car surge by developing and installing “smart roads”—technology-aided roads using fiber optics, cameras, and signaling devices to communicate with drivers, autonomous vehicles, and even transit authorities. For example, Virginia has installed “smart road” devices on light poles and bridges on certain roads, which watch the highway, communicate with drivers, and message government road-maintenance vehicles regarding conditions. Although there are significant potential benefits, from fewer accidents to fuel savings, the cost to the states is likely to be costly. In Ohio, for example, there is a plan to spend $15 million installing “smart road” technology on 35 miles of a state road outside Columbus. It is estimated that fully wiring the country’s 4 million miles of paved roads could require billions. In the meantime, state transit authorities and research facilities are working on resolving the outstanding issues “smart road” technology, including how smart cars and roads will communicate.

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