With each passing year, both motorcycle and car connectivity capabilities just keep expanding. Today, you can adjust suspension settings on certain newer bikes with a few swipes in an app on your smartphone. Some companies are also thinking about the future, and particularly connected vehicles on the road that communicate with each other.
We aren’t quite there yet, but we’re getting closer—and a new project in Cortina, Italy intends to push things forward. Collaborating companies Anas and Tecnositaf simply refer to it as a “smart road,” and it extends for 80 kilometers (around 50 miles) on the SS51 state road of Alemagna, between Longarone and Cortina.
What makes this road so smart? It's packed with both cameras and sensors, which the two companies say can help in multiple ways. Above all, these will monitor traffic flows, including accidents, bottlenecks, and every road situation that develops along the way. Emergency services can be dispatched more quickly if necessary.
Riders and drivers are becoming more connected with our own individual vehicles than ever, but projects like this one are focusing further ahead, as well. As more smart vehicles come online—including autonomous vehicles—smart roads like this are one way to connect everything together. At least, so Anas and Tecnositaf are thinking. It’s also worth noting that Anas currently manages around 90 percent of Italy’s national road network.
This test is the first of its kind in Italy, and it’s timed specifically to coincide with a very busy period in the area. The World Ski Championships take place from February 7 through 21, 2021, and that road should be exceptionally busy for the duration of the event.
Smart road technology facilitates communication between smart vehicles—both bikes and cars. Vehicles without smart communications capabilities can also have special on-board units that allow them to join the conversation. Situations like accidents, brake problems, and other everyday challenges that vehicles face on the road can instantly be transmitted to other smart vehicles—or any equipped with on-board units—in the area.
"This project is of international relevance,” Tecnositaf CEO Giuseppe Celia Magno told Italian newspaper La Stampa.
“Smart roads and smart cities are part of the relaunch of all countries, they are at the center of the digitization processes and the mobility revolution, and that of the smart road will be an enabling technology for allowing autonomous driving. Today we are moving towards 5G, but protocols for future standards are still being defined. The Cortina experience is a sort of 'demo' that will allow us to see how the roads of the future will work,” he concluded.
Additional plans are already underway for more kilometers of Anas and Tecnositaf’s smart road to be installed along the A2 in Sicily. Results of this initial test will, of course, inform how these two companies move forward on both that and other projects in the future.
Other companies around the world have been working on various smart road strategies for several years now, as well. Some concentrate on inter-vehicle communication, road management, and safety, while others involve roads that can charge electric vehicles while they’re traveling on them. SciShow has a good video overview of a handful of recent smart road strategies as of the time of writing.