Ohio Launching ‘Smart Mobility Corridor’ for Autonomous, Connected Vehicles

Cross-posted from AASHTO Journal 9 December 2016

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said the state is investing $15 million to install advanced highway technology along what it calls the “Smart Mobility Corridor,” a 35‑mile stretch of U.S. Route 33 in central Ohio that backers say will be a real-world proving ground for autonomous and connected vehicles.

The announcement said the corridor covers a section of four-lane, limited access highway between Dublin, Ohio, and East Liberty northwest of Columbus, which the Ohio Department of Transportation will equip with high-capacity fiber optic cable to instantaneously link researchers and traffic monitors with data from embedded and wireless sensors along the roadway.

“Some of the world’s foremost automotive researchers are working here in Ohio, at both ends of this corridor, and this project provides them with the perfect location and state-of-the-art infrastructure for safely testing autonomous and connected vehicle technologies,” Kasich said.

capitol0816.jpgHe said the state’s partnership with automotive research centers and local governments in the region will create an ideal proving ground to safely test innovative technologies that can change the way people and products are transported.

Those data links will allow the automotive testing, research and manufacturing facilities to test smart transportation technologies on a highway that carries up to 50,000 vehicles a day through rural and urban settings in a full range of weather conditions. The data will also provide more frequent and accurate traffic counts, weather and surface condition monitoring, and incident management improvements. 

Work to install sensors and a fiber optic network along the corridor is scheduled to begin next May and last throughout the summer, ODOT said.

“Data collected on this corridor will allow automotive innovators to test and refine jobs‑creating technologies that are going to help move people and products more safely and efficiently than ever before,” said ODOT Director Jerry Wray.

“By being one of the first – and best-positioned – states to embrace autonomous and connected vehicle technology, Ohio can also be among the first to benefit from its rewards, giving Ohioans a safer, better driving experience and offering businesses reduced transportation costs, faster access to markets and increased efficiencies,” Wray said.

ODOT’s partners in the project include Honda R&D Americas, the Transportation Research Center at East Liberty and the Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research and as well as local governments along the route.

The Smart Mobility Corridor will also align with work underway to develop the city of Columbus as a hub for intelligent transportation, spurred by a $40 million “Smart City” grant from the USDOT and more than $90 million committed to date by private-sector partners.

The state’s new investment also complements another USDOT grant of $6 million awarded to Dublin, Marysville and Union County and matched by local funds, to expand their fiber-optic networks linking to U.S. 33, install highway sensors and retrofit government vehicles to send and receive data.

Kasich’s press release said that as autonomous and connected vehicle research expands throughout the state, the Ohio Turnpike with its existing fiber-optic network is set to become the centerpiece of a contiguous, interstate highway test corridor eventually stretching from New York to Detroit and Chicago.

The Smart Mobility Corridor is a key component of the state’s new Smart Mobility Initiative, a collaborative effort between ODOT, the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Case Western Reserve University, University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, Wright State University, Ohio State University, the Transportation Research Center, and the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.