Utah, Panasonic Team Up To Develop Smart Roadways Network
June 25, 2019      

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Department of Transportation today announced a partnership with Panasonic Corporation of North America to develop an advanced transportation data network, with the goal of improving safety and mobility on the road through data sharing between vehicles, infrastructure, roadways, and traffic operators in real time.

UDOT Traffic Operations Center personnel will gain insights into critical events such as crashes, severe weather, or stalled vehicles. They will then be able to alert connected vehicle drivers in real-time with alternate routes, delay times, or other helpful information.

The partnership with Panasonic will allow UDOT to accelerate development toward a statewide system for collecting, monitoring and sharing connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) data. As one of the leaders in developing and operating CAV technology, UDOT said it already has a lot of the framework in place.

Utah built the first operational connected vehicle corridor in the nation along Redwood Road, and a second along University Parkway and University Avenue in Utah County (the Utah Valley Express). Buses equipped with special radios are already “talking” to the traffic signals along these roads, and if the bus is running behind schedule, the signal can extend the length of the green light – all without any action taken by the bus driver.

Preparing for the smart vehicle future

With the Panasonic partnership, Utah officials said they will be ready to accommodate the incoming wave of smart vehicles that are more connected, more autonomous, and able to operate more safely and more efficiently through communication among vehicles as well as the infrastructure – including signs, signals, and other sensors.

Utah smart roadways article Carlos Braceras Utah DOT

Carlos Braceras, Utah DOT executive director

“At UDOT, we’re among the most forward-thinking DOTs in the country, and we’re always looking for better, quicker, and more effective ways to move people in Utah,” said UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras. “Embracing and developing this emerging technology has the potential to make our roads safer, reduce congestion, and help the environment through lower emissions.”

As part of the $50 million partnership, Panasonic will help UDOT install intelligent sensors along selected sections of Utah highways. These standards-based sensors, along with similar vehicle-mounted software and equipment, will collect and transmit data at speeds up to 10 times per second, which is then shared with a central cloud-based system. This central software platform monitors the information from the sensor/vehicle network and automatically generates alerts that are shared with vehicles, infrastructure components (such as traffic signals or VMS signs), and UDOT personnel.

The first phase of this new system will encompass 40 installation sites, along with a fleet of 30 state-owned vehicles. UDOT and Panasonic will work together to identify specific locations and scenarios where this system is likely to provide the most benefit by making roads safer, helping traffic flow more smoothly, or reducing congestion. Once these are identified, teams from both organizations will develop new software applications, install sensor networks along the selected roads, and build the control system. Future phases of this system will expand to include 220 installation sites and up to 2,000 vehicles.

Known as CIRRUS by Panasonic, the open architecture network is designed to enable other DOTs and third-party developers to coordinate with UDOT to develop and connect their own applications.

“This is an incredibly exciting partnership and expansion of what are already historic milestones by UDOT in the intelligent transportation space,” said Jarrett Wendt, executive vice president Panasonic Corporation of North America. “Utah is home to distinguished universities and a thriving startup scene. We’re encouraging developers, startups and members of Utah’s academic community to add value to Utah communities by creating new applications on the platform.”