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How We Move Things

Freight volumes are projected to increase by more than 40 percent over the next 30 years, straining our transportation system. As demand for freight in urban areas grow, challenges will increase for “first-mile” movement of goods out of urban factories and ports, and “last-mile” movement of goods from freight hubs to their final destinations. Truck drivers face special challenges in an urban setting - from determining a route, to finding a place to park, to getting around safely among cyclists and pedestrians.

The finalists to the Smart City Challenge proposed a range of innovative solutions to address their freight challenges:

  • Improving reliability of freight by installing signals that prioritize truck movement along freight corridors.
  • Providing truckers with real-time information on parking availability and truck routes.
  • Demonstrating the potential for automated and connected freight vehicles to make freight movements safer and more efficient.
Truck platooning using automated and connected vehicle technologies could reduce truck CO2 emissions by 7 percent.

Green Freight

Freight vehicles are a major contributor to air pollution in urban areas. To tackle this challenge, several finalists proposed adopting truck platooning and freight signal prioritization. In truck platooning, two or more trucks driving one behind the other are connected through onboard technology this allows them to be driven much closer together, which improves aerodynamics, saves fuel, and reduces pollution and CO2 emissions. Freight signal prioritization allows intelligent traffic signals to detect freight traffic and give them priority at intersections, reducing stop-and-go freight traffic.

Freight Lockers

Austin proposed installing special lockers at new multimodal Smart Stations. Partnering with a major delivery and logistics company, freight lockers would be established at both the downtown and residential stations to facilitate package and grocery deliveries. In areas with limited access to fresh food (known as “food deserts”), food lockers equipped with availability and temperature sensors would allow residents to pick up their grocery orders on the way to or from their destinations.