Alerts about traffic, weather, work zones and other conditions should start popping up early next year on the dashboards of digitally connected vehicles on 52 miles of the Ohio Turnpike near Cleveland.
The same information would serve autonomous (self-driven) cars whenever those start cruising the Turnpike between toll plazas 135 in Amherst and 187 in Streetsboro.
The Turnpike Commission voted unanimously Oct. 16, 2017, for a $1.46 million contract with Logicalis in Cleveland for Cisco Systems equipment and software. Under a minority set-aside program, $65,000 of that money would go to subcontractor GoldTech of Ohio in Hilliard.
“The Ohio Turnpike is embracing its role on the forefront of transportation technology,” said Executive Director Randy Cole. “We expect immediate safety and efficiency benefits.”
The measure is part of DriveOhio, a plan announced last week by Governor John Kasich for the commission, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety to promote vehicle communication technology and attract its leaders for experiments here.
The Turnpike calls its plan a “proof of concept” project. If the results are good, leaders say they might do similar work along the rest of the Turnpike’s 241 miles.
Crews have already begun related work on the Turnpike. Sensors will be installed along the roadside and linked to fiberoptic cables already in place. High-speed radios will be put in 38 commission vehicles.
These devices will exchange data about low fogs, snowplow angles and much more. The information will go to commission analysts and to newer vehicles capable of receiving digital short-range radio signals and displaying the results on their dashboards.
According to Cole, future technology might make the radios obsolete, but they cost just $65,000. He said the other equipment and software could be adapted.
Cole said he’s been speaking with industry leaders about possible experiments on the Turnpike with autonomous cars. Most in development rely mainly on their own data and communications network, but would add the Turnpike’s information.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is installing equipment and software like the Turnpike’s on a Smart Mobility Corridor along U.S. 33 between Dublin and the nonprofit Transportation Research Center in East Liberty. ODOT spokeswoman Erica Hawkins said today that the $22 million project should be finished late next year.