08:52 AM

Forum attendance illustrates strong researcher interest in Smart City project

If attendance at the Aug. 10 Smart City Buckeyes Update is any indication, Ohio State researchers are very interested in seeing how they can help develop some of the pilot projects that will revolutionize transportation in Columbus. The U.S. Bank Conference Theatre was nearly filled to its capacity of 293.

The group heard a nearly hour-long presentation by Caroline Whitacre, senior vice president for research; Carla Bailo, assistant vice president for mobility research and business development; and Joanna Pinkerton, co-director of the Honda/OSU Partnership.

Collaboration between Columbus and 17 local partners, including Ohio State, helped the city beat out 70 competitors to be named the nation’s Smart City by the U.S. Department of Transportation in June. Ohio State is the primary research partner on the project, intended to develop connected vehicle/autonomous vehicle technology to reduce congestion, give access to all and improve the environment.

The $140 million program, which will transform central Ohio into the nation’s premier transportation innovation region, includes $40 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation, $10 million from Vulcan, Inc., and $90 million matched by area businesses and public organizations, including $15 million from Ohio State.

Bailo said the project will bring a number of smart innovations to central Ohio. They include:

  • the Northwest 33 Innovation Corridor, which will offer both contained test beds and a public road test bed in the area between Dublin and Marysville
  • autonomous shuttles in the Easton area that will intermingle with cars, signals and signs
  • truck platooning, which comprises a number of automated trucks – one closely following the other
  • technology solutions to address obstacles that low-income residents face in using transportation
  • real-time information about traffic and parking conditions to minimize impacts associated with major events or incidents.

Pinkerton told forum attendees that “Some of the most creative minds at the university are sitting in this room.”

She said four buckets of technology need to be developed:

  • The Columbus Connected Transportation Network, a connected traffic system that joins connected vehicles, buses, lights, data and other features
  • an Integrated Data Exchange, a platform that works with transportation and non-transportation sources as well as data from the Smart COLUMBUS Program
  • Enhanced Human Services, including an integrated common payment system that goes across all economic levels, a multimodal trip planning application and inclusive mobility
  • an electric vehicle infrastructure to accommodate a goal of 3,200 electric vehicles and 1,900 chargers.

“It’s up to people like us to tell the city of Columbus how to build the platform. It’s never been done before,” said Pinkerton.

Projects are broken into needs of four geographic areas.

  • The Residential District (Linden area) includes development of technology for Smart Corridor, Mobility and Safety Applications, Neighborhood Hubs and Smart Lighting and Wi-Fi.
  • The Commercial District (Easton) includes development of an Electric Autonomous Vehicle, an Inductive Charging Station, Enhanced Human Services and the Columbus Connected Transportation Network build-out.
  • The Downtown District includes development of technology for Event Parking Management, Loading Zone Parking Management, Managing Permit-Only Parking Spaces and a Transit Benefit Program.
  • The Logistics District (Rickenbacker) needs development of technology for Driver Assisted Truck Platooning, Minimizing Incidents Due to Low Bridges or Narrow Roads and a Regional Truck Parking Information and Management System.

Next steps include engaging with partners to define tasks and roles and identify deliverables and scheduling monthly progress meetings.

All pilot projects are expected to be on the road by late 2017 or early 2018 with some form of maturity. Even those that are not scaled up will continue beyond the four-year project period. SEE: go.osu.edu/smartc