GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – Imagine driving down Woodruff Road in Greenville without ever running into traffic or never getting into another accident again. Researchers at Clemson University say it could actually happen.
A $1.4 million dollar award and a partnership with the US Department of Transportation is helping Clemson University create accessible wireless technology for all cars and traffic signals. They believe it could make congestion on Woodruff Road and other places like it a thing of the past.
“We are the champions of future transportation technology,” joked Dr. Ronnie Chowdhury, Professor of Civil Engineering.
They’ve developed a formula teaching a traffic signal hub to reason like a human.
“The signal brain will talk to the cars and tell them how to approach the intersection so they don’t have to stop at the intersection,” said Chowdhury.
He said this is opening the door for Clemson University to inch us closer to driverless cars.
“Connected cars will lead to driverless cars. In order to make driverless cars affordable, we need to have this connectivity,” he said.
Chowdhury believes the DOT is aggressive in making wirelessly connected cars a requirement in all future automobiles. For now, similar technology can be used through a phone app.
“Benefits are going to move higher as we go forward, but we can impact now,” he said.
Simulations have worked in the lab and, starting this summer, they are taking their test cars and signals to Woodruff Road. Chowdhury says the technology can also help on the freeway, with roadside signals alerting cars when an accident occurs and giving real time traffic alternatives.
“This can solve significant problems we are having in transportation. So, the primary purpose of these connected vehicles actually is to save lives,” he said.
The DOT partnership with Clemson is allowing them to put around 200 test cars in the Upstate. They’re going to equip SCDOT maintenance vehicles, but also want to recruit volunteers to test it, as well.
Chowdhury believes they could seriously and positively impact Woodruff Road traffic in as little as a year’s time.