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Stratford completes installation of smart intersections for autonomous-vehicle testing

Stratford completes installation of smart intersections for autonomous-vehicle testing
Ryzhome Networks and Festival Hydro vice president of IT Delia Campbell stands at the corner of Ontario Street and Downie Street, one of Stratford’s 24 “smart intersections” at which traffic lights now have the ability to communicate with autonomous vehicles. (Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald)

The City of Stratford is now among the first municipalities in North America to outfit all of its traffic lights with dedicated short-range communications equipment that will allow for the testing of autonomous vehicles on city streets.

The city, investStratford and Rhyzome Networks announced Thursday that all 24 of the city’s traffic light-controlled intersections are now smart intersections after Stinson ITS installed the needed hardware and software – designed by Miovision Solutions in Waterloo and Danlaw Inc. in Michigan – to allow for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.

Workers with Stinson ITS installed a traffic camera and dedicated short-range communications equipment at Front Street and Ontario Street in June. (Galen Simmons/Beacon Herald file photo)

“There have been a significant number of conversations (between the city, investStratford and Festival Hydro/Rhyzome Networks) taking place over the past number of years in terms of trying to build a road map to bring technologies to Stratford to make sure that we’re always on that leading edge of technological implementations … one of those being trying to develop a reputation for autonomous-vehicle testing,” said Delia Campbell, vice-president of IT for Rhyzome Networks and Festival Hydro.

In 2017, the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network pledged $1 million in provincial funding to the City of Stratford for infrastructure upgrades and other projects related to autonomous-vehicle testing after the city was officially named an AVIN Technology Demonstration Zone.

At the time, three Stratford intersections were outfitted with the dedicated short-range communications technology, which allows for wireless communications over a secure, high-speed connection that maintains function in extreme-weather conditions.

Workers install dedicated short-range communications equipment at Ontario Street and Downie Street, making it one of Stratford’s 24 smart intersections. (Submitted photo)

“The first three intersections were a pilot, if you will, and a test to see how the technology will work – certainly in cold-weather deployment and with the four seasons that we’re so blessed to have in Southwestern Ontario,” said Joani Gerber, investStratford CEO. “So when the AVIN project was funded, that $1 million was set aside for the City of Stratford for infrastructure upgrades to make us the demonstration zone for the Province of Ontario.

“This dedicated short-range communications technology is a requirement for vehicles to speak to intersections. The simple way to think about it is, the car needs to know when the light is about to turn red and when the light is about to turn green, so this is the first step in making sure that communication can happen.”

Campbell said the city also purchased a number of onboard communications units that can connect with the city’s smart intersections. With these onboard units, Campbell said autonomous-vehicle developers from across the province can simply plug the unit into their vehicles before testing or showcasing their technology on Stratford’s streets.

“And that works really, really well with the (city’s) autonomous-vehicle test track. … Currently, there is another discussion ongoing as to how we can bundle this as a package to attract businesses (interested in investing in or developing autonomous vehicles) to the city,” Campbell said.

In addition to the communications equipment, some of the city’s intersections have also been outfitted with cameras to provide city staff and councillors real-time data on traffic, which will both better inform municipal decision-making and open the door to the potential development of traffic-management applications.

“The investment by the province and the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network in the City of Stratford provides us the opportunity to improve our traffic system, collect data and plan for the future with no cost to our local residents,” Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson said.

“It positions Stratford as one of the only communities to have this leading-edge technology available to automotive manufacturers for testing.”

Source: www.stratfordbeaconherald.com

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