Mobility Experts Use New Traffic Signals in Houghton

Michigan Tech ‘Latest News’

Researchers at Michigan Technological University worked with the Michigan Department
of Transportation (MDOT) to bring this technology to the Upper Peninsula. Five upgraded
traffic signals in Houghton provide a local corridor where engineers can safely study
vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology and communication. As more connected vehicles
hit the roads in the next couple years, consumers will start to benefit as well.

Local Traffic

The five upgraded traffic signals in Houghton are located at M-26 at Sharon Avenue,
Razorback Drive and Green Acres Road, and US-41 at Isle Royale Street and MacInnes
Drive. Aurenice Oliveira, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering,
works on the communication systems that connect V2I technology.

Aurenice Oliveira works at the interface of the two domains and she says the emerging
technology has the power to reduce vehicle crashes by 80 percent.

“Connected vehicle safety applications reduce crashes by enabling drivers to have
more awareness of hazards and situations they may not be able to see,” Oliveira says.
“Moreover, connected vehicle technologies also have the potential to optimize traffic,
reduce congested areas and promote reduced fuel consumption.”

Units like those in the new signals will allow field experiments to test algorithms
that, so far, have only been used in simulations. The Michigan Tech vehicles used
will not be fully autonomous—there will always be a driver on board with hands on
the wheel—and the series of traffic signals provides a corridor to suss out the nitty
gritty differences between lab models and real-world driving. But the technology as
a whole is well on its way. MDOT policy is to include these kinds of upgrades on all
new signal installations.

“This is the new standard for connected infrastructure that will be installed whenever
MDOT modernizes signals,” explains Justin Junttila, regional traffic and systems operations
specialist with MDOT. “It’s comparatively lower cost to do that instead of …

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