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Connected Vehicle pilot programs seek a safer transportation future

Connected Vehicle pilot programs seek a safer transportation future

Over the past year I have been visiting research labs, technology companies, and manufacturers to deliver a simple message: The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to roll out the red carpet, not the red tape, for new technologies in transportation. If an emerging technology can improve safety and improve how we move, we want to see it on the market as quickly as possible.

And, as many Fast Lane readers know, we are especially bullish about the use of connected and autonomous vehicle technology. Because, who among us has never started to switch lanes thinking that the lane next to them was clear when it wasn’t? And who has never once had a hard time seeing an upcoming stop sign at night?

None of us are perfect, and when we're behind the wheel, mistakes can --and do-- happen.

So imagine having a car that is equipped with technology that can correct human error. Imagine riding a bicycle to a transit stop during rush-hour or walking across a busy street. Except now, you can basically communicate with the drivers and infrastructure surrounding you, and you're armed with information, so you're much less vulnerable.

This is what connected vehicle technology can do. It promises to eliminate 80 percent of accidents in which drivers were not impaired.

These technologies promise even more than this. Eventually they will be the backbone of a new, smarter transportation infrastructure that makes commutes easier and speeds up freight. They will help us be a country that produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions. They will help us design our smarter cities and connect every community to the 21st century economy.

But the reality is we know we can do more than research and show our support. Government also has a role to play in proving to potential consumers and investors that this is more than just a great idea. We can show the American people that this technology works – and more importantly, that it is safe.

We need to get this country wired. And if we do, yes, the use of this new technology will emerge. But according to researchers, so will a $35 billion industry in America.

So today we are vastly expanding on DOT’s efforts by investing up to $42 million in three new connected vehicle pilot efforts --in New York, Florida, and Wyoming.

New York City will now be home to the largest demonstration of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology in the world. In Midtown Manhattan and in Brooklyn, the NYCDOT will be able to install connected technology in 10,000 vehicles --taxi cabs, transit buses, UPS trucks, and the NYCDOT vehicle fleet-- as well as in infrastructure such as the city's traffic signals.

Tampa will install connected technologies in its streetcars and other vehicles to help address its mobility challenges. And in rural Wyoming, we'll use connected vehicle technologies to explore ways to improve freight movement.

The truth is, we already know these technologies can work. Because we’ve seen it. We saw them work at the first test site we launched back in 2010 on the streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Now we’ll see them work again in New York, Wyoming, and Tampa –and in more communities where we’ll launch pilots in the near future.

And with good feedback from pilots like the ones we've launched today, we can anticipate these technologies becoming part of everyday reality across America in the very near future.

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