Utah is building 'vehicle ecosystem' allowing traffic signals to talk with vehicles


    UDOT engineers are experimenting with Dedicated Short Range Communication technology to make roads safer, less congested and easier on the environment. (Photo: KUTV)

    A state-of-the-art program is being designed in an effort to make roads safer, less congested and easier on the environment.

    It’s called Dedicated Short Range Communication, or DSRC for short. The network uses radios with frequency ranges of about 1,000 feet that can talk to each other.

    Some intersections along Redwood Road already have them. The radios can communicate with each other to instantly send traffic data between lights and cars.

    UDOT engineers are experimenting with Dedicated Short Range Communication technology to make roads safer, less congested and easier on the environment. (Photo: KUTV)

    2News found out this technology could be implemented soon on state-owned vehicles. It’s already used in snow plows and 10 UTA buses.

    “There's a lot of technology going on in everything we do,” said UDOT technology engineer Blaine Leonard. He's one of the people in charge of the vehicle ecosystem program.

    Just this week, the state started looking at how to add to and improve on their use of short-range connective technology.

    “The end game here is to save lives,” Leonard said.

    UDOT engineers are experimenting with Dedicated Short Range Communication technology to make roads safer, less congested and easier on the environment. (Photo: KUTV)

    Leonard says connective technology can help prevent crashes, frees up congestion and warns drivers of icy patches ahead of them.

    “The system could warn you that someone else is going to run a red light, allowing you to slow down or stop so you don't get hit," Leonard said.

    Late last year on Redwood Road, short range radios were installed on some of the traffic signals. Similar radios are on 10 UTA buses. The two radios can talk to each other within 1,000 feet. If the bus is more than five minutes behind schedule, it can manipulate the light to stay green longer, making it easier to flow through traffic.

    UDOT engineers are experimenting with Dedicated Short Range Communication technology to make roads safer, less congested and easier on the environment. (Photo: KUTV)

    “It's actually been pretty rock solid,” said UTA’S Kyle Brimley.

    Brimley is part of UTA’s technology deployment team. He says they've had to flush out a few bugs with the system, but sees great potential.

    “As UDOT puts more of these modems on their intersections, it will just help transportation out greatly," Brimley said.

    UDOT has plans to add the radios to more corridors this winter, although which ones are not yet known. UDOT did just roll out the technology on the new bus rapid transit line in Provo, which is not yet compatible with personal vehicles.

    Some auto makers are already developing the technology. Cadillac already has the technology in one of their new models. Toyota is expected to roll its out in 2021.

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