Central Florida recently received a grant for testing autonomous vehicles. The state is just the latest among a list which have their own testing sites for self-driving cars. Other states that host testing sites for this bold idea include Rhode Island, New York, Michigan, and California, among others.
The tests will start by 2019 at Orlando’s Creative Village, the location of UCF Downtown, along with the UCF main Orlando campus. The research project expansion will follow with deployment to the rest of Central Florida.
Worth $11.9 million, the grant aims to test several new technologies for smart city transportation. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) funded the project for teams from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the University of Central Florida (UCF), and MetroPlan Orlando to make recommendations based on the project results. The project objective is to address Central Florida’s transportation challenges, including minimizing traffic-related accidents and fatalities, traffic congestion, and commuter access to transportation.
The grant is part of the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) totaling $54 million for 10 bold innovations. It was the largest single grant in the list and is the only Florida project.
Along with a $90 million project to build an 8-lane test track, this puts Central Florida in the forefront of autonomously-driven vehicle testing. Called the SunTrax, it is a partnership between the FDOT and the Florida Polytechnic University. Located 40 miles southwest of Orlando, the SunTrax research track covers 400 acres. The planned construction has a 200-acre infield complete with a learning laboratory, simulated city, suburban and rural roads, intersections complete with signals, interchange ramps, and roundabouts. The university has separate project with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which will also make use of the SunTrax facilities.
Upcoming UCF Projects
The UCF projects has four tech systems components, for deployment from 2018 to 2019, with operation and maintenance to continue up to 2021. The tests will start by 2019 at Orlando’s Creative Village, the location of UCF Downtown, along with the UCF main Orlando campus. The research project expansion will follow with deployment to the rest of Central Florida.
- PedSafe. The system aims to help pedestrians and bicycle riders. This is a collision avoidance system alerting drivers when pedestrians and cyclists are in the area. The system uses smart traffic signals to ensure that pedestrians have enough time to cross the road.
- GreenWay. Using sensors and new technology, this helps the transportation system adapt to real-time traffic conditions. The system’s goal is to reduce congestion and help facilitate consistent travel times. Tools include adaptive traffic signals, advanced traffic light timing, and assist parking availability in a garage.
- SmartCommunity. Combining information from different transportation options into a central repository allows people to access the information and help them plan their trips. Information for driving, bus transport, trains, and ridesharing utilities are available.
- SunStore. The FDOT’s central data storage for all the above transportation systems and used for management and operations information. With diverse technologies available for commuters and vehicles, the data stream is a continuous flow. SunStore data is from different connected sources, and integrated for the FDOT to make it available to universities, research laboratories, and businesses for more traffic innovations.
Together, these projects are set to make a bold impact in the transportation industry.