ATLANTA - We have smart phones, smart watches, and smart devices galore, but Atlanta's hard at work on the city's first ever Smart Corridor. It's part of the $250 million Renew Atlanta Infrastructure Bond.
It's the first of many coming to Atlanta, but North Avenue, from Moreland Avenue to Northside Drive will be the first Smart Corridor, with technology that will try to reduce congestion and make the road safer.
The very latest technology is on the way to North Avenue, the city's first Smart Corridor. "We are using technology to be able to do things more efficiently and more effectively and smarter," said Faye DiMassimo, the General Manager for the Renew Atlanta Bond and TSPLOST programs for the City of Atlanta.
With Georgia Tech on one end, and Ponce City Market on the other, it's an area that's constantly hustling and bustling. "We've got cyclists, we've got pedestrians, we've got the vehicles and we've got transit traffic," said DiMassimo.
"I think it's really using the resources wisely to promote something that will help students and community members,” said Georgia Tech student Sahitya Nara.
The improvements will feature new cameras, lighting, bike and pedestrian sensors and adaptive traffic signals. "Smarter signals that can actually talk to each other and help to manage traffic flow very effectively," adds DiMassimo.
"That really shows how we're evolving as a society with technology," Nara said.
Along with that technology, comes autonomous vehicles, both driverless and driver assisted. "Actually there's quite a bit of autonomous vehicle activity already in the Atlanta area, and people may not know it because they may see a driver, a person, sitting in that seat but that car may really be doing all the work," DiMassimo explains.
Earlier this year, Transdev showed off its driverless shuttle. The City of Atlanta plans to use similar vehicles to move people down North Avenue. "The autonomous vehicles, the smart cars that are driver supported are never distracted. They are always analyzing what's going on the roads so it makes the person in the seat a better driver," DiMassimo shares.
Not everyone is on board yet though. "Driverless vehicles... Nah. I'm not a fan of that one, I can tell you that," Christopher Muckle said. "It's bad enough we've got regular drivers, now you're talking about a vehicle with no driver. You're relying on sensors and stop lights. I don't trust it."
Like it or not, technology is changing the way your roads work. "I'm really excited about what that's going to mean for the citizens of Atlanta. I truly believe that in the next 5 years, we are going to have a transformed transportation network," DiMassimo said.
The City is set to cut the ribbon on the Smart Corridor in September. The North Avenue Smart Corridor was just chosen as one of three areas worldwide for the Safer Roads Challenge. It was chosen along with a city in Brazil, and a city in China to take part in the program. The project is a partnership with big companies to look at how to make our roads safer. This includes predicting crashes before they happen with road sensors that can read live conditions and adjust accordingly.