University of Michigan Receives $9.95 Million for 20 ‘Smart Intersections’ in Ann Arbor

Smart Intersection
Stock photo courtesy of Nout Gons.

The University of Michigan is working to create “smart intersections” across Ann Arbor. The United States Department of Transportation has awarded the University $9.95 million to fund the project.

The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute will receive almost $10 million in funding for the creation of 20 “smart intersections” in Ann Arbor. Of the federal dollars, the University of Michigan will receive $3.8 million directly and are to distribute the remaining $6.2 million to subcontractors. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration has awarded the University $9.95 million to fit intersections with cameras, radar, and infrared sensors to capture what is moving in the area, at what speed, and in what direction. This includes cards, cyclists, and pedestrians in the area. These intersections will be able to collect and send this information to connected cars in real time, alerting the driver of any upcoming hazards.

Vehicles in the city have been communicating with one another and infrastructure since 2012 through the U of M-led Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment and its predecessor Safety Pilot Model Deployment. At its peak, nearly 3,000 vehicles were involved, which made it the largest connected vehicle deployment in the world. These projects provided evidence that connected vehicles have the potential to reduce unimpaired crashes by 90%.

Although there are plenty of advantages with the technology, they’re not without their weaknesses. Connected and automated vehicles still have blind spots and sensors can still be fooled by things like poor weather conditions. Additionally, with a small percentage of connected and automated cars on the road today, it is difficult to demonstrate the potential benefits of the latest safety technology. 

The three-year project falls under the Department of Transportation’s Advanced Transport and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program. The program is designed to fund model problems that lead to the “installation and operations of advanced transportation technologies to improve safety, efficiency, system, performance, and infrastructure return on investment.”

For more information on this project, check out the University of Michigan’s website.