Smart-vehicle testing in Dublin likely won’t begin until the next year or so, but drivers probably won’t even realize test vehicles are passing them on the road, according to Patrick Soller.

Soller is general manager with Alten-Cresttek, an engineering services company in Dublin hired to provide engineering services and public engagement for the Route 33 Smart Mobility Corridor.

As the project matures, the goal is to have about 1,200 vehicles tested that have units onboard to enable them to communicate via dedicated short- range communication with infrastructure such as traffic signals, Soller said.

The Smart Mobility Corridor extends into Dublin to Frantz Road, Soller said.

Fiber-optic cable extends from Transportation Research Center, a vehicle testing organization in East Liberty, to the data center in Dublin’s Metro Place.

The fiber-optic cable will provide the link for data for the vehicles to communicate with other vehicles and infrastructure such as the Ohio Department of Transportation’s traffic management center.

If a crash or incident occurs on the highway, for example, ODOT could send a notification to travelers, said Matt Bruning, ODOT Central Office press secretary.

The biggest benefit of this emerging technology is safety, Bruning said.

Drivers could be alerted when they are going the wrong way on a highway, for example.
And when a vehicle hits a patch of black ice or slick conditions on a road, ODOT and other vehicles nearby could be alerted, he said.

Dublin City Council members Oct. 22 approved an agreement between the city and ODOT regarding autonomous vehicle testing within city boundaries.

The agreement gives the city the opportunity to participate in the testing program with ODOT and Drive Ohio, according to an Oct. 15 memo from Dublin City Manager Dana McDaniel to council members.

The city’s agreement with DriveOhio allows Dublin to extend connected-vehicle testing from U.S. 33 to Dublin’s streets and intersections to collect data to improve safety and offer improved solutions to move people and goods, McDaniel said.

“Thanks to the U.S. Department of Transportation $5.9 million grant for the installation of dedicated short-range communications and investment by the state of Ohio in fiber optics along U.S. 33 between Dublin and East Liberty, to include Marysville — this stretch of highway will become the nation’s playground for controlled testing of connected and autonomous vehicles and other applicable technologies,” he said.

Vehicles that will be tested on the 33 corridor will be connected, rather than autonomous, meaning drivers will be present, Bruning said.

“You won’t notice anything different,” he said.

The technology could also allow vehicles to communicate with sensors at intersections, Soller said.

Lights could adjust based on traffic, to give a green light at 3 a.m. to the only car in an empty intersection, for example, or to delay a green light if a vehicle is running a red light.

And equipment necessary to enable vehicles to communicate with infrastructure is small, Soller said.

Roadside units will look similar to mini-cellphone towers, Soller said, while car units might connect to the vehicle’s existing antennae.

A transmitter might be in the trunk of a car.

“The technology is very compact and small,” he said.