Transportation and Technology Workshop Highlights Alaska Opportunities for Driverless Cars, Connected Vehicles
Anchorage, AK (December 5, 2016) NYSE, TSX:STN
Transportation is changing. Communities have reached a breaking point with congestion and are looking for solutions to improve safety and mobility.
For many communities, driverless cars are likely an important part of the solution. But will connected vehicles (CV) and automated vehicles (AV) work in Alaska? That was part of the discussion at the recent Transportation and Technology Workshop presented by Stantec in conjunction with the Anchorage Downtown Partnership, Vision Zero Anchorage, World Trade Center Anchorage and the Anchorage Economic Development Corp.
Nearly 50 regional leaders and representatives from departments of transportation and municipalities gathered for the discussion led by Vivian Underwood, Municipality of Anchorage Intelligent Transportations Systems (ITS) Coordinator. Stantec’s Koorosh Olyai, P.E., and Rod Schebesch, P.Eng., shared insights on federal funding for CV/AV projects, as well as current pilot projects and tech applications being explored in Alaska and around North America.
Olyai and Schebesch emphasized that not only will connected and automated vehicles work on Alaska roads but will also be excellent candidates meeting First Mile/Last Mile needs.
“Alaska is not behind the curve on this technology,” Schebesch said. “Most states have yet to even consider CV/AV. Although pilot projects and testing have begun elsewhere, there is no reason why Alaska could not move forward as well and by doing so, embrace this transformative technology that will improve safety and congestion. Now is really the time to be having these important discussions.
“This workshop is a great starting point to see what the next opportunities are in Alaska.”
Schebesch has spent his career designing and building transportation infrastructure. He is working with ACTIVE-AURORA, Canada’s largest connected and automated vehicle test bed. He is using that experience to design and construct tomorrow’s intelligent transportation systems today, with a focus on building smarter cities.
Olyai said one of the key benefits of CV/AV is improved safety on roadways. During his workshop presentation he highlighted that 94 percent of accidents are the result of driver error.
“Safety is the big thing,” says Olyai, who is the chairman of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group for International Standards organization (ISO) for ITS and has more than 35 years of experience planning and designing roadways, public transportation facilities and ITS. “The technology is coming and it’s going to reduce accidents and save lives. That’s great news for people in vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.”
Stantec is a key partner in the GoMentum Station and ACTIVE-AURORA. GoMentum Station is a 5,000-acre former naval weapons facility in California, which is the largest CV/AV secure test facility in the U.S. ACTIVE-AURORA is a test bed that includes a number of existing roadways that are testing CV systems and technology in Edmonton, Alberta, which provides a similar climate to Alaska.
Underwood says that one key point she gathered from the transportation workshop was that changes to roads and vehicles will have an impact beyond those two areas.
“A point that Koorosh made that resonated with me was that advanced transportation technologies will have a big impact on land use and parking requirements, as well as utilities and the economy,” Underwood says. “Transit service in future could be completely redefined, with autonomous vehicles providing door-to-door service.”
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