All eyes on Marysville


A heads-up display inside the vehicle will be able to give drivers an audio and visual warning (inset) about pedestrians, emergency vehicles and red-light runners. Officials say the number of messages will increase as testing continues and technology continues to advance.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Mac Cordell)
“Did you see that?” Ohio Gov. John Kasich asked Thursday morning. “Wow.”
Kasich was responding to the demonstration of a car that notified its driver of a pedestrian crossing the street from around the corner.
The governor was one of dozens of state, local and business leaders on hand to watch Honda demonstrate its Smart Intersection technology, which allows infrastructure and other vehicles to communicate with each other.
Cameras mounted above the traffic lights at each corner of the intersection of Fifth and Main streets in the city capture bird’s-eye-view video of surrounding vehicles and pedestrians. Honda’s software creates a 360-degree image of the intersection and identifies vehicles and other moving objects, such as pedestrians, motorcycles and emergency vehicles, and broadcasts important information to surrounding connected vehicles. On-board computers decode the information and, when necessary, provide visible and audible alerts to the driver.
Kasich said the technology is “really about saving lives.”
Ted Klaus, vice president of strategic research at Honda R&D Americas, said for now the company is focusing on alerting drivers to pedestrians, emergency vehicles and red-light runners.
“There is nothing that keeps us from adding flexible messages,” Klaus said.
He added the company will “fully leverage this ecosystem” to achieve the goal of a zero-collision society.
City and company officials stressed Marysville is the only real-world application of the Smart Intersection technology, and while the technology is impressive, officials say the public-private partnership that allowed Marysville to be the test bed for the Smart Intersection technology is even more so.
“This is not just a technology demonstration, it is just the first demonstration that exhibits our partnership (with the City of Marysville),” Klaus said.
Marysville City Manager Terry Emery said the intersection is part of the city’s bigger 33 Smart Mobility Corridor project. He said the decision to partner with Honda was “a win-win.”
“The City of Marysville is appreciative of our rich history with Honda of America and we are committed to our partnership with them to support their development and testing of autonomous and connected vehicles,” Marysville Mayor J.R. Rausch said. “We are proud they chose Marysville to deploy this Smart Intersection technology here.”
He said he “appreciates” Honda and excited to be at the forefront of a shift in transportation.
“How we move goods and people is about to change and that change is being led by Honda and the state of Ohio,” Rausch said.
Kasich agreed.
“Research underway in Marysville and along the U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor holds great promise in advancing world-changing transportation technologies…” Kasich said. “With the help of strong public and private-sector partners, and our unmatched Transportation Research Center, Ohio is aggressively working to maintain its leadership role for developing vehicles and smart technologies of the future.”
Kasich said the City of Marysville has changed dramatically over the years. He called city leaders “risk takers” for partnering with Honda to install the infrastructure.
“We give a lot of credit to Marysville,” Kasich said.
He also credited state leaders as visionaries.
“Our state anticipated this,” Kasich said. “We have been thinking about this for a long time.”
Honda officials know there will be issues to work out.
“We will not flip a switch and have things perfectly,” Klaus said.
Kasich said the “big issue” will be getting communities and drivers to buy into the technology advances.
“Technology in this space is going to advance, even if people want it to stop it,” Kasich said.
The governor explained that technology will eliminate some jobs but will create others. He said schools will need to prepare students for the new jobs.
“They are going to be exciting jobs, they are going to be a new kind of job. They are likely going to be high paying jobs,” Kasich said.
Klaus has said that by 2020, the company hopes to be building commercially available vehicles that communicate with the driver, the infrastructure and other vehicles. By 2025, the company hopes to be building commercially available, personal-use vehicles that can drive themselves, “when you choose to have.”
He said Honda North America is working on smart and connected vehicle technology while Honda Japan is working on creating a fully autonomous vehicle.

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