The Road to Smart Transportation: What About the Ruts?

“A tide of innovation has invigorated the global auto industry, and we are taking these giant leaps forward to remain a leader of new technology. “We are not doing this for the sake of the technology itself.

“A tide of innovation has invigorated the global auto industry, and we are taking these giant leaps forward to remain a leader of new technology.

“We are not doing this for the sake of the technology itself. We are doing it because it’s what customers around the world want. Through technology and innovation, we will make driving safer.”

That was General Motors CEO Mary Barra during her keynote address at the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) World Congress in Detroit last week.

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Cars talking to cars

She was talking about two new technologies.

One is vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication. This is a system wherein vehicles so equipped with the sensors and communications setup will be able to send/receive information about the driving environment from other so-equipped vehicles as well as from the infrastructure. This not only has the potential to improve safety, but to reduce congestion on the roads as drivers will have comprehensive information about their driving environment.

General Motors plans to introduce V2V on the 2017 Cadillac CTS.

The other technology is called “Super Cruise.” At least that’s the working name. This is an automated driving technology. This will include hands-off lane following (yes, no hands: the car steers itself), braking and speed control. This would allow the car to do the work in tedious driving situations, such as in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or during long road trips. (It should be noted that the driver is still to be “attentive.” No dozing.)

While all of this is certainly impressive, there is one thing that comes to mind, especially for those of us who live and drive in the southeastern Michigan region. There is serious attention being given to “intelligent” vehicles and highway systems. But for the most part, many of the roadways look like this:

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Solid infrastructure is going to have to precede intelligent infrastructure.