The future of modern travel can be seen in the proposals for the Smart City Challenge. The USDOT (United States Department of Transportation) has pledged up to 40million to help one city get closer to what it defines as a "smart city". These funds will be used to help the chosen city become the country’s first city to fully integrate innovative technologies – self-driving cars, connected vehicles, and smart sensors – into their transportation network.
This initiative is meant to help cities into their future as smart cities. Whether it be self-driving cars, connected vehicles, or smart sensors, the winning city will receive the amount to help integrate these technologies into their transportation network. Though this has not been an incredibly large scale project, the initiative has garnered participation from all over the nation. Many cities offered their pitches, and the 7 finalists were chosen: Austin, Denver, Portland, Pittsburgh, Columbus, San Francisco, and Kansas City.
Each city has its own set of goals they wish to tackle. Overcoming these issues by making use of today's advancing transportation technologies will allow them to bring the city into the "smart city" status that the future calls for.
Austin has an issue they are tackling that is unique: urban mobility overload. There has been a continuous increase in the number of people living in Austin. There are twice as many people living in Austin, Texas than there were 30 years ago. Try managing all those people trying to get places within the city - then throw in the massive amounts of people that flock to the city for other things like exhibitions, conventions and other large-scale event-type gatherings: huge mess. This is why the city has proposed several ideas including connected and automated cars, Smart Stations, and Mobility marketplace.
Denver wants to connect more, with less, using their smart city initiatives. Their proposal states that “By connecting users, systems, and infrastructure with technology and information, our Smart City Program will generate fewer emissions, with fewer injuries and fatalities, and provide more transportation options and a higher quality of life.”
Portland is a city that is incredibly pro alternative transportation. The number of cyclists in the city is probably astonishing for some other cities. But this brings its own set of issues that the city must consider. Transportation safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians is only one of these that Portland wishes to improve on. City organizers say the smart city initiatives proposed will address these issues.
Pittsburgh's highway system was built to provide a quick way into the business district. But this has been the root of many problems the city is trying to fix. The city hopes smart city initiatives can help resolve the problems and has proposed several ideas including autonomous shuttles/transit vehicles and Surtrac, a real-time adaptive signal control system for traffic and lights that lead into downtown Pittsburgh.
Columbus, Ohio has an approach for its future that focuses on three things: being healthy, being prosperous, and being beautiful. They hope to achieve these goals as well as reduce consumption and emissions by making use of 12 intiatives including:
Real-time information about traffic and parking conditions and transit options to minimize traffic issues associated with major events or incidents.
Smart corridors to improve transit service and efficiently. This may include traffic information boards and electronic signs warning of incidents and providing detours.
Expanded usage of electric and smart vehicle
San Francisco, California
San Francisco has been part of the international network of smart cities since 2011 and has been sharing its practices with its sister cities: Paris and Barcelona. As a city already ahead of others in the race to becoming a truly smart city, the city's officials are quick to recognize the areas where they can do more. The city's new proposal is one that wishes to expand and integrate mobility services across the city, incorporating shared connected automated vehicles (accessible by an app).
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City has changed almost completely in recent years. Now becoming much more than just a stop-over city, the growth in population and visitors is affecting the ability to easily travel in and around it. The city has proposed a number of initiatives to help aid this situation, some of them including autonomous shuttles at the airport (and possibly downtown), pedestrian mobility apps, sensors that will monitor mobility, emissions and safety, and will provide smart street lighting.