Tuscaloosa is the first city in Alabama to take part in a new project aimed at paving the way for self-driving cars.
New short-range radios installed at dozens of traffic signals throughout Tuscaloosa and Northport will be collecting data for research aimed at decreasing travel time, reducing vehicle crashes and laying the groundwork for eventually supporting self-driving cars. Researchers say one useful application of the radios will be red light warnings in cars, similar to collision warnings already installed in some newer vehicle models.
The study comes in response to a challenge from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to install 20 of the short-range radios in each state by the year 2020. 50 of the units will be installed in Tuscaloosa and Northport this fall.
Multiple centers at the University of Alabama will be collaborating on the research, including the Center for Advanced Vehicle Technology, the University Transportation Center for Alabama, the Center for Advanced Public Safety and the Alabama Transportation Institute.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox says the project “is a prime example of how we can use data to improve the lives of people in our community”.