Networking: 'Smart highways' emerging

Aug 01, 2005

Commuters cruise down Interstate 95 from New York City to Washington, D.C., bumper to bumper, at a speed of 120 miles per hour -- about a two-hour trip at that speed. Do they worry about collisions? Not at all. They can even check the Dow Jones industrial average or browse new books on Amazon.com while they motor.

Those commuters, sometime in the not-so-distant future, will be traveling along smart highways: networks of sensors connected to satellite links controlling collision-detection computers onboard the vehicles. The technology will do all the driving, experts told UPI's Networking.

"There is simply no limit to what we can achieve as the technology improves," said Ed Schlesinger, founding director of the General Motors collaborative laboratory at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "Cars will become nodes in a worldwide network delivering information to that network and getting information from it."

Scientists and engineers at Carnegie Mellon and other leading research universities, as well as at the automakers in Detroit, are working on networking technologies that will enable vehicles to communicate and share data. These technologies will provide drivers with information about traffic flow, road conditions and even the optimal place to park. The networking also will help drivers alter their travel routes if conditions warrant, and even slow down to avoid a serious incident.

"Though investments in technology have fallen off precipitously since the Internet implosion, there has been a renewed focus in this century on productive technology -- not technology for technology's sake, but with a purpose, focus and bottom-line rationale," said Anthony J. Mayo, co-author of the forthcoming book, "In Their Time: The Greatest Business Leaders of the 20th Century" (Harvard Business Press, 2005).

Indeed, according to Carnegie Mellon researchers, today's typical highway lane accommodates 2,000 vehicles per hour, but with networking and automation, that capacity could be expanded to 6,000. New peer-to-peer networks will monitor and control each vehicle's location and speed.

Such an advance could reduce commute times -- and increase worker productivity -- dramatically, allowing more hours at the office instead of frittered away in traffic.

Some of the early-stage versions of these exciting technologies already are being field-tested. Technicians at Motorola and General Motors are installing mesh networking at a number of race tracks around the globe, including a recent installation at the famed LeMans endurance race. The GM Corvette racing team placed first and second in that 24-hour race last month using the mesh networks, which provided pit crews with video feeds from the cockpit of the racecars. It gave the crews the ability to monitor and diagnose problems with the cars wirelessly.

Soon, this technology could "also help improve the safety of the driving public on roads outside of the race track," said Gary Grube, a Motorola corporate vice president in Schaumburg, Ill., near Chicago.

Another smart-highways project, conducted last year, demonstrated how a sensor-based traffic-management system could work. The project was undertaken by Siemens AG and a partner in California called E-View Safety Systems. In one dramatic facet, the test showed how emergency vehicles could take control of traffic lights while en route to ensure that ambulances arrived at the emergency rooms as quickly as possible.

The highway of the future will incorporate a number of technologies, such as video and data transfer, as their prices continue to drop and their power and performance increase.

"Computer-based technology, the foundation for much of the innovation in business since the 1980s, will undoubtedly continue to be refined in the new century," Mayo said. "Particularly as advances in wireless communications, data integration, video streaming and graphic transfer become more affordable and accessible."

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Constantly changing online prices stump shoppers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Intel has end-to-end reference model for IoT

18 hours ago

Intel has declared its move to simplify and unify connectivity and security for the Internet of Things. Earlier this week, Intel announced platform, products and expanded company ecosystem designed to speed ...

Drone revolution hovers on the horizon

18 hours ago

Drones are about to have a big impact on our lives, even if they will not be delivering our orders from Amazon any time soon, say experts.

"JPEG changed our world"

16 hours ago

JPEG is the image format we use the most in the world, be it in our computers, smartphones or digital cameras. But it is actually more than that. JPEG is also an international group of experts, which recently ...

Learning from new, very low-energy buildings

14 hours ago

A holistic approach is necessary to successfully plan and construct energy efficient buildings. But implementing best practices elsewhere is not a straightforward task.

Recommended for you

North Korea behind Sony hack, FBI says

47 minutes ago

North Korea was responsible for a "destructive" cyber attack on Sony Pictures, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation said Friday, warning it would hunt down the perpetrators and make them pay.

Clooney slams skittish Hollywood after Sony hack

2 hours ago

Film star George Clooney slammed the Hollywood movie industry for failing to stand up against the cyber threats that prompted Sony Pictures to cancel release of the movie "The Interview."

The state of shale

3 hours ago

University of Pittsburgh researchers have shared their findings from three studies related to shale gas in a recent special issue of the journal Energy Technology, edited by Götz Veser, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Che ...

Coping with floods—of water and data

4 hours ago

Halloween 2013 brought real terror to an Austin, Texas, neighborhood, when a flash flood killed four residents and damaged roughly 1,200 homes. Following torrential rains, Onion Creek swept over its banks and inundated the ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.