Colorado is the first state in the country to start testing smart pavements. The half-mile of roadway, made of precast concrete panels, will contain sensors, processors, antennae, the latest fiber optics, and wireless technology. These smart slabs are designed to connect to motorists’ cell phones to provide real-time alerts. The goal is to use technology to save lives and provide better response times in emergencies.
The new technology can detect vehicles abruptly leaving the roadway and summon help immediately (accident detection). These intelligent roadways could warn drivers of hazardous conditions and sharp curves ahead. Real-time information can be sent to the driver about traffic, road conditions, and accidents.
The technology can also help engineers make informed decisions about future maintenance and replacement schedules and help control and coordinate traffic flow to reduce traffic slowdowns. The technology may also provide a new way to fund roadway upgrades and shift ongoing maintenance from the public to commercial enterprises.
While smart cars are new and come with a hefty price tag, there are also some other concerns – Who has access to the data? How much information will our smart roads be collecting about us? Will drivers be subjected to third party targeted interactive billboards and advertising? We will have to wait to see the results of the pilot programs. Stay tuned!