Autonomous Technology In Calgary: Reducing Emergency Vehicle Travel Times
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The City of Calgary recently reported the details of its testing
and implementation of autonomous vehicle and road technology, which
was installed on 16 Avenue North. Calgary created this project to
establish an assessment corridor for vehicle-to-infrastructure
(V2I) technology. The goals of the project were to enable
transport-sector innovation and further understand connected
vehicle applications. The project included 12 intersections along
16 Avenue North being equipped with dedicated short-range
communication roadside equipment, several emergency vehicles being
outfitted with on-board equipment, and trialing pre-emption
applications that relied on this technology. The project was hailed
to be a success and plans for next steps are ongoing.
16 Avenue North as a testbed
16 Avenue North is a major road and key link in Calgary’s
transportation network. This multi-lane corridor connects three
fire stations, an emergency medical service station, a level 1
trauma hospital and two post-secondary institutions and it is often
used for emergency vehicle routing. In addition, some intersections
along the corridor were already equipped for emergency pre-emption.
As a result, the corridor provided an opportunity to support both
internal and third party research and development in the short
term, but it also prepares Calgary for the anticipated arrival of
automated vehicles in the long term.
Project objectives and outcomes
Calgary set out to test and implement connected vehicle
applications that could provide an immediate and tangible benefit
to both itself and the public. Four applications were tested. The
testing focused on an emergency pre-emption application. Other
applications included a connected vehicle validator that provided
audio and visual alerts as well as an application to assist
visually impaired pedestrians. This allowed Calgary to compare
reliability and usefulness based on how much time passed between
the emergency call being received and when the emergency vehicle
arrived at its destination.
The project showed that the V2I pre-emption application
benefitted the Calgary Fire Department. The V2I application
reportedly provided some advantages over the current alternative
methods, such as:
- Allowing for message exchange between the communication
equipment in the emergency vehicle and the roadside equipment. With
current methods, messages are only received by the roadside
equipment. This exchange between the roadside equipment and the
communication equipment in the emergency vehicle provides warnings
to dispatchers of events like pedestrians in crosswalks or
predicted collision warnings.
- The potential to communicate warnings of approaching emergency
vehicles to other drivers or pedestrians.
- Integration into a more complex system allowing it to be used
for other vehicles.
The data collected from the project showed that the pre-emption
technology and equipment resulted in decreased travel times during
peak hours. Overall travel time reductions were recorded during
both peak morning and afternoon hours with as much as a 16.2 per
cent reduction during the morning peak hours. The outcome of the
project supports the report’s conclusion that the reduction in
travel time is directly related to the addition of connected
vehicle pre-emption technology.
Projects like this are creating the roadmap for future connected
vehicle innovation. We expect adoption of autonomous vehicle
technologies to continue to grow across sectors. This undoubtedly
calls for careful mitigation of liability associated with such
projects for all ecosystem players.
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