Expectation Is 2019 Will Feature More Than 8,000 Vehicles And 300 Intersections In The Big Apple Using This Wi-Fi-Like Technology

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New technology that allows vehicles to communicate with each other is being tested in the Big Apple.

They’re called “connected vehicles.”

And it means that soon your bus or taxi will be able to sense a car stopping short — or a light changing red — before you can.

CBS2’s Lisa Rozner saw the technology in action firsthand on Tuesday.

This device, which is being used on about 70 vehicles and 15 traffic signals on the streets of New York, uses technology similar to Wi-Fi. It allows “connected” vehicles to talk to each other. (Photo: CBS2)

A close call between a white Department of Transportation truck and a yellow truck was avoided because of technology similar to Wi-Fi inside the vehicles. It enables vehicles to “talk” with one another within 1,000 feet.

It can also tell drivers about a blind spot. It’s part of more than a dozen warnings announced inside connected vehicles, and there are about 70 of them on the road right now as part of a DOT pilot program.

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So what’s enabling these cars to communicate with each other? Well, every vehicle participating has a device placed either under the passenger’s seat or the driver’s seat, CBS2’s Rozner reported.

Participating vehicles include DOT cars, Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses and taxis.

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Drivers can also be warned of a changing red light. A traffic signal at Madison Avenue and 57th Street is one of about 15 outfitted with the technology as well.

“Two feet away from the signal heads and it has the GPS capabilities,” said Mohamad Talas, the director of DOT System Engineering.

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Some time next year more than 300 intersections will have the device and some 8,000 vehicles in New York City will be equipped to be “connected,” Rozner reported.

When asked if the technology is the most exciting thing in his 30-year career, Talas said, “I would definitely say so, definitely. This is game changing.”

Most of the funding for the $27 million program is coming from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Professor Kaan Ozbay of New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering will analyze the data.

“I’ve been working on this for the last 20 years and this is the first time we see this kind of real deployment,” Ozbay said. “There’s no way to build more roads or more capacity so you need to bring in technology to improve the roadway. If this technology can reduce the number of accidents than you really improve traffic flow.”

And as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” initiative, it can reduce the number of traffic fatalities.

The program will also test an app that helps those who are visually impaired with crossing the street. New York City is one of only three cities in the country chosen by the federal government to test the technology.