US innovative transport projects to receive $94m in funding

The United States Transportation Department will award $94.8m (£77.4m) to 59 advanced technology projects to boost the safety, sustainability and efficiency of transport networks.

The US will support a series of smart mobility projects using the funding from its November 2021 infrastructure law, which pledged to dedicate $500m (£408m) over five years for these types of initiatives. 

US transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg said the grants would “foster innovations that improve people’s day-to-day lives, making transportation safer, more reliable, more efficient, and more sustainable”.

One of the challenges the Transportation department will aim to tackle is road safety. Last year, traffic deaths jumped 10.5 per cent to 42,915 in 2021, the highest number killed on American roads since 2005.

After declining for years, traffic deaths jumped sharply after Covid-19 lockdowns expired in 2020 and more drivers engaged in unsafe behaviour, leading officials to look for technologies to prevent traffic accidents. 

Detroit will seek to do so with a project that aims to deploy sensors to create smart intersections. These would rely on existing traffic cameras to deploy artificial intelligence software solutions to “predict and prevent traffic accidents” in the city, Michigan’s largest.

The Detroit project will receive $2m (£1.6m) in public funding. 

Meanwhile, New Jersey has won another $2m (£1.6m) for sensors to address wrong-way driving events while New York is receiving the same quantity to develop an app to allow visually impaired New York subway and bus customers to safely navigate their transit trips.

An additional $2m (£1.6m) will be awarded to Los Angeles to integrate transit trip planning with event ticketing for major activities, including the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

In addition to trying to prevent traffic accidents, the government will also fund a series of US initiatives focused on improving emergency services. 

With this goal in mind, Cleveland, Ohio, will get $1.8m (£1.5m) to develop smart traffic signals to provide the right of way to emergency vehicles, and Harris County, Texas, is receiving $2m (£1.6m) for sensors for a new flood warning system.

Three tribal nations in North Dakota are receiving $2m (£1.6m) for drone technology for medical care and equipment deliveries, while a project to use drones to deliver medical supplies in Virginia’s Eastern Shore will get $1.9m (£1.55m).

Massachusetts is receiving $2m (£1.6m) to use drones and sensors to monitor and analyse railroad infrastructure threatened by groundwater variability while New York will use $1.5m (£1.2m) for drones to inspect infrastructure along a major highway.

The US is not the only country to invest in this type of technology. Last year, Australia revealed that one of its busiest roads will host a brand-new traffic-management system using the latest technology to reduce traffic jams and improve road safety.

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