MICHIGAN’S “SMART HIGHWAY” COULD PAVE THE WAY FOR THE REST OF THE US

Sensors, cameras, and a bunch of other gadgets aim to inform motorists of what lies ahead.

Pretty much anything and everything around us can be made extra special with the word “smart” or “intelligent.” It first started with our phones, and not long after, extended into more mundane things like watches, refrigerators, and microwaves. These days, it’s safe to assume that there are more “smart” things than regular old stuff. Heck, even roads are getting smarter, too.

In fact, those of you who live in Michigan can experience one firsthand as a three-mile stretch of Interstate 94 is poised to be America’s first smart highway.

The minds behind Michigan’s smart highway? A startup called Cavnue which is backed by none other than the folks at Google's parent company Alphabet. According to the company, the I-94 is just the first of many, and it hopes to roll out similar initiatives all over the country.

So, how exactly does a “smart highway” work?

Well, for starters, the highway will be fitted with poles every 655 feet. These poles are equipped with a variety of tech such as sensors, computers, and communication equipment. Of course, cameras will be used all over the highway, and all together, these gadgets feed data into an AI algorithm which then identifies various hazards and conditions.

For drivers and riders like you and me, we’ll see this data flashed on the navigation systems of our vehicles, or on our smartphones. Cavnue explains that this technology is compatible with most modern vehicles with built-in navigation systems.

Clearly, this is a big step forward for Michigan’s Department of Transportation (MDOT), who explains that the smart highway will make driving safer for the public by reducing accidents, improving traffic flow, and providing quicker emergency response times. The smart highway section is currently located between Ann Arbor and Detroit, with Cavnue and MDOT eyeing an additional 40 miles in the near future.

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If we look at things from the bigger picture, one thing’s for sure: technological advancements in the world of motoring are always aimed towards safety. From the vehicles themselves all the way to the infrastructure that surrounds us, more and more tech is an inescapable reality.

But there’s a but—and it’s a big but.

I think that drivers and riders of today are spoiled by the conveniences that technology provides, so much so that basic driving and riding skills take a back seat.

From automatic braking systems to invasive collision avoidance systems, and yes, even smart highways that tell us what’s happening miles before we get there—I can’t help but wonder how the next generation of motorists would fare should all these techie gadgets, for whatever reason, either permanently or temporarily, just disappear.

Critical infrastructure hacks occur. As does inclement weather, which is affecting all of Texas at the time of writing. What happens if the power is shut off? What happens if the worst occurs thanks to climate change?

Is Smarter Always Safer?

Source: Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan Public

2024-07-10T12:45:34Z dg43tfdfdgfd