Continental establishing smart mobility center in Auburn Hills

AUBURN HILLS—The future of intelligent transportation has been installed at three intersections in Auburn Hills by the United States unit of the German auto supplier Continental.

Continental officials this week announced the establishment of a new technology proving ground, the Smart City Mobility and Transportation Hub in Auburn Hills.

The hub includes the installation of Continental sensors and software at the intersections of Auburn Road and North Squirrel Road and Auburn Road and South Squirrel Road. Also installed was Continental’s wrong-way driver detection system at North Squirrel Road and Parklawn Street.

Continental officials say the technology has the potential to increase safety by communicating hidden dangers to approaching connected vehicles and pedestrians, as well as improve traffic flow and reduce pollution.

“With about 80 percent of Americans living in urban areas, a steady increase in pedestrian fatalities, and more than 43 percent of crashes taking place at intersections, a focus on improved safety at city intersections has never been more important,” said Jeremy McClain, director of chassis and safety systems and technology for Continental North America. “By bringing together a variety of automotive-grade technologies, systems and expertise, Continental’s Smart City technologies have the potential to greatly improve the lives of everyone who enters the area.”

In its current phase, the Smart City Mobility and Transportation Hub is collecting important non-personally identifiable information, like location and movement patterns, about pedestrians, vehicles and other intersection-related activity to create an environment model needed for infrastructure-to-everything (I2X) communication. The environment model provides information about vehicles and vulnerable road users, traffic infrastructure, static objects, and the overall road situation to connected vehicles.

“With Continental’s sensor technology, we want to apply our years of experience in the automotive industry to make intersections more intelligent, and therefore safer and more efficient,” said Laurent Fabre, head of the passive safety and sensorics business unit at Continental.

The Smart City Mobility and Transportation Hub infrastructure is equipped with Continental’s short- and long-range radars. These radar sensors have been deployed on a number of vehicle platforms over the years, and enable functions like adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, forward collision warning, lane change assist and more. Continental now looks to apply the economies of scale together with its software functions knowhow from automotive to infrastructure.

In addition to the Continental radar sensors, the Auburn Hills Smart City Mobility and Transportation Hub also has a roadside unit and electronic control unit to process data and run the environment model and functions.

This combination can offer a number of benefits, like counting the number of vehicles entering and exiting a specific zone to communicate the number of available parking spaces to interested vehicles. By connecting to a traffic light controller, traffic flow can be better optimized, reducing not only congestion, but also emissions from idling vehicles. The solution makes it possible to warn an approaching vehicle about hidden hazards such as pedestrians. With additional analysis and artificial intelligence, intention prediction of pedestrians becomes possible, helping to alert drivers to pedestrians planning to cross even when the vehicle has the right of way.

“Auburn Hills is excited to partner with Continental to provide a real-world test location for Smart City Technology that will make the future of transportation safer not only for motorists, but cyclists, pedestrians, and other users within the confluence of the intersection,” said Auburn Hills Mayor Kevin McDaniel.

An additional feature added to the Auburn Hills Smart City Mobility and Transportation Hub is Continental’s wrong-way driver detection system, which warns at-risk drivers in the vicinity of a driver heading the wrong way. Crashes involving a wrong-way driver are often catastrophic. In the U.S. on average there are approximately 295 crashes producing 389 fatalities each year, trending upwards over the last 5 years. Continental’s WWD detection system will be showcased at CES 2020.

This technology is packaged into a fixed-mount I2X roadside unit with low power requirements, making it suitable for solar power. The WWD detection system would be installed on existing poles and gantries near the beginning of highway exit ramps, not only detecting and alerting of wrong-way drivers just entering the highway, but also those who may have entered several miles before.

In addition to Auburn Hills, Continental operates a Smart City Mobility and Transportation Hub in Changsha, China, as well as Intelligent Intersections in Walnut Creek, Calif., and Columbus, Ohio, and plans to expand to other cities in the near future.

Continental’s CES press conference will be held at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 6. Continental will also showcase its latest innovations and technologies in a private exhibit at the Renaissance Hotel. An invitation-only media event has been scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 7.

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