Driverless cars are the wave of the future, but are our cities prepared for them? To find creative solutions for some of our urban cities’ most pressing transportation challenges, the U.S. government has selected seven cities to participate in the “Smart City Challenge.” The goal of this competition is to transform urban transportation with a special focus on self-driving cars.
A total of 78 cities nationwide applied for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) “Smart City Challenge,” including Greenville, South Carolina! Unfortunately, Greenville just missed the final cut. The seven finalists selected for participation include:
- Columbus, Ohio
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Austin, Texas
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Denver, Colorado
- San Francisco, California
- Portland, Oregon
USDOT and its advisors selected these cities based on the following criteria:
Over the next few months, each city will receive $100,000 in funding and will work with USDOT and some of the world’s most powerful tech companies to structure their proposals. Each city will then be provided with $40 million to implement their strategy. The winner of the challenge will be announced this coming June.The Smart City Challenge was created as a response to the Department’s 2015 Beyond Traffic Report, which revealed how unprepared many cities are for trends like densifying neighborhoods, rapid urbanization, and an aging population. With $4 billion being set aside out of next year’s transportation budget to push autonomous vehicles, it is critical that cities look ahead and find solutions to things like congested roadways and steadily increasing travel times.
Harnessing New Technology for Safer RoadsParticipating cities will have assistance from a number of industry giants, including Amazon Web Services, Autodesk, NXP, and Mobileye. Mobileye’s collision-detection system is already being used on public buses in countries around the world, while NXP’s Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) technology is helping vehicles to communicate among themselves to improve safety and efficiency.
The winner of the challenge will also receive up to $10 million in additional funding from Vulcan, a company focused on reducing vehicle emissions and helping cities end climate change.
“I want our country to lead the world in transportation again,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “We got into this practice of thinking small, and we can’t afford to do it anymore.”