Jan 25, 2019

Smart infrastructure and AVs could work together to make cities safer

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Technological advances are set to transform not only vehicles — as they take on more autonomy and connectivity — but also transportation infrastructure.

Why it matters: Developing technology for AVs to communicate with other vehicles as well as infrastructure like streets, traffic lights and road signs could both improve safety and decrease congestion.

Details: Several initiatives are already building prototypes of smart infrastructure components, some of which could potentially communicate with AVs directly.

  • Australian company Büro North has proposed traffic lights on the ground capable of lighting up in response to pedestrians.
  • Umbrellium in the UK has developed Starling Crossing, a pedestrian crossing that uses lights and signals to direct traffic. It relies on a neural-network framework that can anticipate people's movements and change the configuration of a crossing or buffer zone accordingly.
  • MIT's Senseable City Lab has developed slot-based intersections, modeled after air traffic control systems, that could double the rate at which vehicles move through intersections. A traffic-management system could control traffic signals and allow AVs and connected vehicles to request permission to pass through as they approach.
  • IFSTARR in France has developed dismountable urban pavement, which could be lifted and repositioned if roadways or underground systems need maintenance.
  • Building on IFSTARR's concept, Sidewalk Labs and Carlo Ratti Associati have designed a reconfigurable paving system so that streets can be converted for different uses. Light signals in the pavement and interchangeable poles and barriers could communicate whether the roadway is open to traffic on a weekday morning, or closed off and converted into a playground for families on weekends.

Yes, but: Upgrading existing infrastructure would be expensive and time-consuming, so municipalities may need to assess which technologies would have the most impact.

  • Additionally, a connected infrastructure system would collect enormous amounts of data on how, when, and where people travel. It would be crucial to protect that data and leverage it responsibly in order to build public trust and get public buy-in.

What’s next: If labs continue developing and refining prototypes and coordinate with AV companies, different elements of smart infrastructure could ultimately work together.

Carlo Ratti is an architect and engineer who leads the Carlo Ratti Associati design practice and the MIT Senseable City Lab.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Infections number tops 140,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now infected over 142,000 people in the U.S. — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 had killed over 2,400 people in the U.S. by Sunday night. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,000 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 2,600 Sunday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 14 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 721,584 — Total deaths: 33,958 — Total recoveries: 149,122.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 142,106 — Total deaths: 2,479 — Total recoveries: 2,686.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health