In early October, I attended a demonstration of Honda’s new “smart intersection” technology in Marysville, Ohio. I’ve been involved in the auto industry for many years, and while I’m aware of the advancements taking place with autonomous and connected vehicles, Honda’s technology and how it will improve safety at intersections continues to impress me.
Honda partnered with Marysville to install the technology at one of the city’s busiest intersections. Four cameras are mounted above four traffic signals on each corner of the intersection, capturing live video of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Honda’s proprietary object recognition software then processes that information and analyzes it for threats, such as approaching emergency vehicles, cars running a red light or people stepping into the street. If necessary, the system alerts drivers who have onboard units in their cars using an audio and visual warning projected on a small screen on the windshield.
This pilot program between Honda and Marysville is just one example of smart technology projects in Ohio. Let me explain why they’re happening here. For quite a while, we’ve been touting the fact that Ohio has an unparalleled combination of assets and resources that make it an ideal location for researching, testing and deploying connected and autonomous vehicle technologies. But I think something that makes Ohio particularly attractive for companies involved in this sector is the ease at which they can partner with local communities, state government, academic institutions, research centers and even other companies.
In looking at the Honda and Marysville partnership, Honda came up with the smart intersection technology, but it needed a community where it could research the technology. Marysville, home to Honda’s manufacturing plant, R&D center and thousands of employees, offered a real-world environment and was a logical choice.
The 33 Smart Mobility Corridor is another good example showing the value of partnerships. The cities of Dublin and Marysville and Union County collaborated with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to install fiber-optic cable and dedicated short-range communications along a 35-mile stretch of U.S. 33. The Ohio State University and the Transportation Research Center (TRC) got involved in the effort and helped turn that part of U.S. 33 into a route for public and private entities wanting to test connected vehicle technologies.
TRC, the largest independent automotive proving ground in North America, has long partnered with OEMs, government entities and manufacturers from around the world on research and development activities. When it’s finished, the TRC’s Smart Mobility Advanced Research and Test Center – which itself is a project supported by multiple partners (ODOT, JobsOhio, the state of Ohio and the Ohio State University) – will serve as a one-stop facility where auto manufacturers and suppliers can safely test autonomous vehicles and related technologies before they’re used on city streets and highways.
In May, Gov. Kasich signed an executive order authorizing autonomous vehicle testing in Ohio, reinforcing the state’s commitment to automotive and technology companies that are working on these next-generation technologies. The executive order also created a voluntary “Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program” with the specific purpose of linking companies with local governments willing to partner and provide testing locations.
So, if our weather, geographic assets, research organizations, testing facilities, IT talent and existing “smart” projects aren’t enough, now we have the added benefit of public-private partnerships. These partnerships give companies one more reason to consider Ohio when they’re looking for that perfect location to research, test, and deploy connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.
If you’re interested in learning more about Ohio’s smart mobility assets, give me a call at 614.300.1159 or send me an email.
Photo by Fred Squillante, courtesy of The Columbus Dispatch as featured in Megan Henry’s story on Dispatch.com found here.