Peachtree Corners is testing technology that allows vehicles to communicate with their surroundings in the hopes of bettering public safety and traffic flow.
The Curiosity Lab, the Gwinnett city’s publicly funded innovation lab, is partnering with Jacobs and Qualcomm Technologies to implement cellular vehicle-to-everything, or C-V2X, technology in a real-world environment.
C-V2X technology connects vehicles to traffic signals, crosswalks and other vehicles on a 5G network. Drivers will receive alerts of nearby objects, like cars or pedestrians, helping them make decisions while behind the wheel.
The city is testing the technology with its two 2020 Ford Edge vehicles. The vehicles will always have a driver behind the wheel during testing, said Brandon Braham, assistant city manager and chief technology officer of Peachtree Corners.
The technology has the potential to increase the safety of drivers and pedestrians, Branham said. The data collected by it contains no personal information and remains anonymous, he said.
“Distracted driving is at an all-time high,” Branham said. “… I think that we all take risks when we get into vehicles, but we all are aware of the impact that it can have on others around us. The more information we have to help us drive safely, I think, is a huge win for all of us.”
It could also help traffic flow by telling trafficsignals when to let cars through, Branham said. With less cars idling, C-V2X is projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 5-20%, according to the 5G Automotive Association.
Peachtree Corners, the most populous city in Gwinnett County, positions itself as a “smart city” and innovation hub. The city has a test track for autonomous vehicles and previously tested self-driving scooters, and it will be the first to test C-V2X on a public street.
The city will invest $66,000 toward the partnership for technology installation and configuration, Branham said. The investment could pay off, he said, by attracting startups and other companies to test the technology.
Branham expects C-V2X capability to become a standard addition to 2023 car models. He projects the technology to roll out in the U.S. market in the next five years, with government agencies and companies using it before average consumers.
Qualcomm, a wireless technology company, provides the technology while Peachtree Corners provides the test environment. Jacobs, a technical professional services firm that works with other companies, organizations and government agencies, helps to install the technology and provides expertise.