The U.S. Transportation Department is about to make driving a little bit easier. The department announced it will award a mid-sized U.S. city up to $40 million to pilot a program that will ease traffic woes and prevent accidents. In conjunction with NXP Semiconductors (News - Alert) NV, the department will provide communication units that will allow cars and drivers the ability to exchange pertinent data, like hazard warnings, to improve traffic conditions.
This ‘Smart City’ initiative takes into account how technology can help drivers on the road with simple warnings of conditions more than a mile away. For example, data exchange could include notices of icy roads, speeding cars, or accidents ahead.
"In the near term, it's not about automated driving as much as it's about assisted driving," NXP Chief Executive Officer Rick Clemmer said in an interview, according to Reuters (News - Alert).
So far, 80 U.S. cities have applied for the program, including Detroit, Boston, Anchorage, Alaska, San Francisco, Baltimore, Cleveland, Las Vegas and Pittsburgh. The winner will be named in June of this year.
The pilot program is reminiscent of the popular Waze app, a navigation tool that alerts users about local traffic conditions to speed up commutes, all based on smart algorithms and aggregated traffic history.
Alarm features within the app can adjust based on real-time driving conditions and predictions so that you arrive on time to your destination.
The Smart Cities project, however, takes this a step further. Beyond just a working app, the initiative is a "fully integrated, first-of-its-kind city that uses data, technology and creativity to shape how people and goods move in the future," the department said.
Google Maps and Waze are by far the two most popular navigation apps on the market and both are available for iOS and Android (News - Alert) for free download. Much like Waze, the Smart City project will rely on crowdsourced information from other users on the road so it constantly updates you with notifications about traffic jams and accidents that could slow you down. The difference here is it will be available city-wide as opposed to being restricted to the users who have chosen to download it.
There are a multitude of reasons for improving safety standards but a major factor has been the role of technology. It has not just improved vehicle safety but has provided a whole range of ways to tackle the problem from different directions.
Data analysis and predictive modeling have been particularly influential, transforming the way road systems are designed and giving planners much greater insight into how to create safer roads.