Siemens announced Thursday that it will invest $385,000 in Columbus, Ohio to help push it toward its goal of becoming the first US city to fully integrate self-driving electric vehicles, smart grids, smart streetlights, and collision avoidance sensors as part of its transportation system.
The investment in advanced hardware and software will serve as a foundation for the city’s connected vehicle efforts, so that vehicles can communicate with the traffic lights to improve driver and pedestrian safety, reduce congestion, and reduce emissions. Columbus is in the midst of a smart city transformation that focuses on transportation as a result of winning a $40 million grant from the US Department of Transportation in June 2016, along with an additional $10 million from Vulcan Inc. as part of the federal Smart City Challenge.
“Columbus isn’t just envisioning a city where their infrastructure is smarter, they’re making it happen. With this connected vehicle technology, infrastructure like intersections and streetlights will have the ability to communicate with vehicles, buses, or even pedestrians to help drivers make decisions that can reduce congestion and increase safety,” said Marcus Welz, CEO of Siemens Intelligent Traffic Systems, North America.
The Siemens intelligent software and hardware package for Columbus includes connected vehicle-ready traffic control software (SEPAC) that provides detailed traffic signal phase timing, roadside units that allow traffic intersections to communicate with vehicles, and roadside unit management software that give real-time visibility into traffic flow and connected vehicle operations.
Connected vehicle systems communicate between vehicles and infrastructure and give drivers suggestions in real-time like speed recommendations, curve speed warnings, or prioritization of specific vehicle fleets such as those that offer car-sharing. The US DoT reports that connected vehicles can potentially avoid or mitigate 80% of unimpaired crashes. As part of its Smart Columbus initiative, the city will determine the most effective use cases and locations to implement the connected vehicle technology.
SEE: Columbus, Ohio: What’s next for the DoT Smart City Challenge winner (TechRepublic)
The Siemens investment is one of many for Columbus. Part of the reason the city was chosen as the federal Smart City Challenge winner was because of the support from private industry, as previously reported by TechRepublic. The original $50 million investment from the DoT and Vulcan has already been leveraged into $500 million in funding, and the overall goal is $1 billion, according to Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership.
Three takeaways for TechRepublic readers:
- Siemens has invested $385K into connected vehicle technology for the city of Columbus, Ohio.
- The $385K is part of an overall investment among multiple public and private partnerships that total $500 million.
- Columbus is focusing on transporation after winning the $40 million DoT grant as part of the Smart City Challenge last year.
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