Engineering researchers testing cars and roads and that talk to each other

    UAlberta transportation engineers leading the way in smart vehicle research

    September 16, 2016

    (Edmonton) Smart vehicle technology is being used on the streets of Edmonton, making it the first Canadian city to witness cars “communicating” with each other and with the roadside infrastructure. This could significantly improve road safety.

    The technology, being tested under the ACTIVE-AURORA research initiative at the University of Alberta, was announced at the International Conference on Transportation Innovation in Edmonton on September 16, 2016.

    “ACTIVE-AURORA will be data-driven test-bed for the whole region,” said Tony Qiu, a civil engineering professor and director of the U of A’s Centre for Smart Transportation.

    ACTIVE-AURORA represents a unique partnership among three orders of government (Transport Canada, Alberta Transportation, and the City of Edmonton), the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, and several industry partners. As the first connected-vehicle test bed network in Canada, ACTIVE-AURORA signifies a push in innovation towards increased safety and efficiency in transportation.

    In connected vehicles, a wireless device exchanges information in real time with roadside equipment, such as traffic lights or message signs, and with other connected vehicles. The technology is allowing infrastructure to alert motorists to hazards, whether they’re speeding, or following too close. It can tell drivers if they are going to make it through a green light at an intersection or if they should prepare to stop.

    “Collaborative initiatives such as ACTIVE-AURORA, supported by all levels of government, and with partners in industry and academia, ensure the development of new technologies that have an immediate and direct impact on the public good. This project has the potential to improve public safety and ensure the safe and timely delivery of people,” said Fraser Forbes, dean of engineering.

    “Partnership is key to success,” added Tony Qiu, who added that the centre is providing an outstanding engineering education to students, who are working on leading-edge technologies.

    “Another output will be for research,” said Qiu. He says an agreement has been signed to bring the technology to China.

    “We will implement what we have done in Edmonton, Alberta in China. This shows how our research from ACTIVE-AURORA will be exported globally,” said Qiu.

    “Edmonton roads are now equipped with smart technology. This opens up all sorts of possibilities,” said Karim El-Basyouny, a civil engineering professor who is a member of the project team.

    “This technology is going to revolutionize the way we think and move. It will allow vehicles to be able to communicate information to each other and talk to the infrastructure,” he said.