All the talk about autonomous cars has taken the focus off a critical idea – connected roads. Connected roads is about making roads smart for use by smart vehicles (those with self-driving and vehicle-to-x communication capabilities). The idea also talks about roads that can be remotely monitored for predictive maintenance. There is quite a bit happening on this front.
Here are some hard facts behind these developments. Back in 2013, the US Department of Transportation estimated that it would cost $109 billion per year in 2020 to simply maintain all roads across the country in their current state. It also added that another $184.2 billion would be needed to improve their quality. Think about the cost involved in building connectivity into them.
To ensure the process goes smoothly, 3M is working with transport departments around USA to test new products. These products include pavement paint markings and street signs that can talk to cars. They are intended to make driving an autonomous car a safe experience. Do note that these solutions are also inexpensive and less time-consuming when it comes to real-life applicability.
The push for such solutions comes from the fact that GPS technology is not as accurate as needed. A bug may cause a self-driving vehicle to place itself incorrectly on the road, causing an accident. However, with road markers and paints that such cars can read, they will not need to rely on inbuilt GPS systems all the time.
3M is also experimenting with smart street signs that are embedded with information. A self-driving car’s infrared sensor will be able to scan this information and react accordingly, either slowing it down or bringing to a complete halt.
Another company working in this direction is Pirelli. Pirelli wants to help make roads connected by giving cars new capabilities. One of them is mounting a sensor inside a tire. This sensor will collect data on the tire’s health and where it has been used, among other things. Pirelli can then share this data with the DOT to help improve a road’s condition.
Also, it is working on a tire that can also act as a power generator. Using triboelectric power generation technique (rubbing two objects together to generate friction and energy), this tire can help an electric car regain some charge, helping it go on for longer distance on a single full charge.
The future of connected roads is not just about keeping the roads connected. It is also about using the existing road infrastructure to benefit the users. The co-existence of these mechanisms will make for truly connected road infrastructure and vehicles.
To know more the work about Audax Labs has been doing on connected devices, reach us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.