Communicating cars could make Tampa Bay Area's commutes faster, safer

Technology promises less traffic in near-future
Posted at 4:35 PM, Nov 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-30 04:00:51-05

We got a look into the future today in Tampa and if we're to believe what we're told, Tampa's future will, surprisingly, have less traffic than today.

That's what technology companies like Siemens and Connected Signals, and transportation agencies like the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority and the U.S. Department of Transportation's Connected Vehicle pilot project are promising thanks to two new types of technology.

Connected Vehicle and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure technology mean that our cars will talk to each other, and our cars will talk to traffic lights

More communication could mean less traffic jams and less traffic accidents, according to the companies invested in making this future a reality.

Local political representatives, like State Senator Jeff Brandes of Pinellas County, like the idea of improvement when it comes to the Tampa Bay Area's traffic problems.

The average commuter in America is stuck in traffic an estimated 38 hours every year, a huge waste of time. That waste of time also equals about 5.5 billion hours in lost productivity.

Connected Vehicle systems can revolution driving by allowing the vehicle, traffic infrastructure, pedestrians, and bicyclists to communicate with one another.

Vehicle-to-Infrastructure technology can provide data to warn drivers when pedestrians or bicyclists are detected in the road and advice optimal speeds to pass through an intersection during a green light.

According to the U.S. DOT, Connected Vehicle programs can help reduce unimpaired vehicle crashes by 80 percent, making travel safer and more efficient for drivers.

Siemens, as a member of the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) team, has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide innovative vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology for a new Connected Vehicle pilot project.

Siemens V2I technology will enable vehicles and pedestrians to communicate with traffic infrastructure like intersections and traffic lights in real-time to reduce congestion specifically during peak rush hour in downtown Tampa.

If you're wondering when we'll actually see this technology in use, a THEA project manager tells ABC Action News that THEA will start to phase this technology into the infrastructure over the next decade as vehicles become more equipped to communicate back.

Sen. Brandes tells ABC Action News that he also envisions a near-future in which people save money by ride-sharing all the time, and hopes the technology comes rapidly enough to keep up with the Tampa Bay Area's rapid growth.

"People are going to go from households that own two cars to one car to no cars eventually and they're all going to be using this app technology to help them get around," Senator Brandes tells ABC Action News.