NYC Cars to Talk to One Another Under Traffic-Safety Pilot Program

NYC Cars to Talk to One Another Under Traffic-Safety Pilot Program

The $25 million effort will involve 8,000 vehicles, as well as roadside sensors, traffic signals and smartphones

By Paul Berger Nov. 5, 2018 4:14 p.m. ET

Your New York City bus or taxi may soon be able to sense the movement of vehicles and the timing of traffic lights within a several-block radius as part of a trial program to reduce road injuries and deaths.

As part of a $25 million pilot program, 8,000 vehicles will be outfitted with special devices that can communicate with one another, as well as with roadside sensors, traffic signals and app-enabled smartphones.

The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded New York City about $20 million for the pilot, which started in 2015. The city is contributing up to $5 million for the project, local officials say.

The city has installed roadside sensors in Midtown Manhattan along a 2-mile stretch of the FDR Drive and on First, Second, Fifth and Sixth avenues between 67th and 14th streets. Sensors also have been installed along Flatbush Avenue from Downtown Brooklyn to Grand Army Plaza.

City transportation officials say the “connected-vehicle” technology would alleviate many common causes of accidents. It will alert the driver if he is at risk of running a red light, if a visually impaired person is in a crosswalk or if a car several vehicles ahead brakes sharply.

While autonomous vehicles use sensors that can see around a vehicle, connected vehicles use short-range communication similar to Wi-Fi to communicate with other vehicles, roadside sensors and smartphone apps. The technology has a range of 1,000 feet.

Mohamad Talas, who oversees the city’s transportation-system technologies, said that because connected vehicles can communicate with traffic signals and monitor vehicle movements out of range of autonomous vehicles, they complement each other. “The best autonomous vehicles in the future will be connected autonomous vehicles,” he said.

Drivers would always remain in control of their vehicle, but would receive warning prompts if a hazard is nearby.

The New York City pilot also calls for 100 visually impaired pedestrians to use a smartphone app that would help them cross the street.

The program plays into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s years long push to reduce traffic fatalities, an initiative known as Vision Zero. The number of people killed on city roads has fallen in each of the past several years. There were 81 such fatalities during the first six months of this year, the fewest for any six-month period ever recorded, city officials said. In 2017, 214 people were killed in traffic accidents, they said.

Today, about 70 vehicles are circling the city using prototype equipment. In the coming weeks, city officials expect to finalize contracts to outfit the remaining vehicles.

In the next year, up to 8,000 vehicles will be equipped with the technology, including nearly 6,000 yellow cabs, more than 1,000 Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses, 500 city and sanitation vehicles and 400 UPS trucks.

Kaan Ozbay, a professor at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, said that although connected technology has been tested in other cities, such pilots involved fewer vehicles or vehicles that aren’t on the road as frequently as those chosen for the New York City pilot.

“This is probably the largest pilot test so far in the world,” said Mr. Ozbay, who runs a university research center focused on connected cars and who will analyze some of the city’s data.

City officials emphasize that the data, which will be fed to the Department of Transportation, is anonymized and won’t be used to track individual drivers or vehicles.

New York City is one of three areas chosen by the federal Transportation Department to test connected-vehicle technology.

A project along 402 miles of Interstate 80 in Wyoming focuses on trucks, particularly during winter when crash rates rise. In Tampa, Fla., a project in the central business district focuses on relieving congestion and reducing collisions, including on reversible express lanes run by the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority.

“So far, we are very happy with what we have seen,” said Finch Fulton, deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Transportation.

Mr. Fulton noted that auto makers, such as General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp., increasingly are including the technology in new vehicles, meaning it could become much more common in the coming years.

Write to Paul Berger at

Appeared in the November 6, 2018, print edition as '‘Smart’ Traffic Plan Set to Hit the Road.'


Popular posts from this blog

Report: World’s 1st remote brain surgery via 5G network performed in China

Visualizing The Power Of The World's Supercomputers

BMW traps alleged thief by remotely locking him in car