In an era of smart innovations, it is a matter of time before smart roads become the deal of all major and minor ways. With the growing environmental concerns associated with fossil fuels, which have in turn led to more and more adoption of renewable energy sources, electric powered, self-driving cars with high precision Artificial Intelligent sensors are the deals of the day.
The growing adoption of self-driving cars effortlessly begs for the upgrade of the traditional road network to a smart system. Smart highways, roads and intra-city streets are going to be major integrals of the future. In short, it will come to exist, not just in smart cities, but also in the traditional setting as it will be the future determinant of how self-driving cars communicate with the road, the users and other cars.
Why do we need smart roads?
Artificial Intelligence powered Automations hold the future of most human activities. For this to be effectively actualized, most interacting systems will become automated as well. What does this mean? With self-driving cars to go, Artificial Intelligence powered roads are necessarily required to achieve full functionality of the autos. With Smart roads, Self-driving cars will be able to function better, interact better and report better. Smart roads would make the automated system easy.
Smart roads will go a long way in shaping the entire transportation scheme by cutting off the work load of self-driving cars.
What is a smart road?
Smart roads are a component of the Smart Cities concept, which applies advanced information technologies, such as Internet of Things, cloud computing, big data, and artificial intelligence, to facilitate the planning, construction, management, and services of smart cities.
Smart roads include the actual roads themselves, smart streetlights, smart traffic signs, and smart or autonomous cars driving on these roads. The architectures, systems and applications that make smart roads possible include communications networks, IoT sensor networks, as well as big data and artificial intelligence applications.
Smart road systems that are deployed in Smart Cities require extensive sensor networks that create huge volumes of data on traffic flow and public transit systems. These systems gather data from thousands of traffic cameras, road detectors, traffic lights, parking meters, air quality and other sensors, mobility apps and connected cars.
This data can then be utilized to make traffic flow more efficient, reduce congestion and, longer-term, help city planners address bottlenecks. Citizens also benefit from open data through real-time access to traffic information so that they can better plan their journeys and avoid congestion.
Real-time navigation alerts drivers to delays and helps them choose the fastest route. Smart parking apps point them directly to available spots, eliminating time spent fruitlessly circling city blocks. Emergency services benefit from systems that monitors traffic in real time so that accidents and disruptions can be handled immediately. For instance, by optimizing emergency call dispatching and synchronizing traffic lights for emergency vehicles, cities can cut emergency response times by 20–35 percent.
A key challenge of smart cities is the need to process extremely large amounts of complex and geographically distributed sources of data (citizens, traffic, vehicles, city infrastructures, IoT devices, etc.), combined with the additional need to deal with this information in real time.
A peek into the future
Smart roads will be an indispensable part of smart transport for future smart cities. In a period of over two decades, we have witnessed the progress and developments of various technologies that have helped the convergence and realization of smart roads.
Smart roads will bring about greater automation, higher energy efficiency, lower cost, improved public safety, cleaner air, greener environment, less traffic congestion, fewer accidents and fatalities, and hence improving overall quality of lives for city residents .
Roads will no longer be viewed as static infrastructures but rather an ‘intelligent grid’, fully aware of the situation, context and the environment. Smart roads will also be ‘end-to-end’, meaning it will not only benefit the city residents but also the city leaders and operators. Residents will be able to interact with the smart transport entity through their mobile phones (as they are out on the streets, strolling or commuting), while city operators will be able to monitor traffic and environmental conditions remotely but attentively, responding in a timely manner on a demand basis.
In the future, there will be mergence of three major grids:
- The information grid
- The electric grid
- The transportation grid.
The three grids effectively blend and work together to yield a powerful construct of the future smart city, forming the city’s ‘brain’, ‘nerves’ and ‘hands and legs’ that provide reach to places within and outside the city. The advances mentioned earlier support various converged and ultimate bigger goals.