Ferrovial and Microsoft partner on 5G smart roads

  • January 25, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Spanish transport company Ferrovial has created the AIVia connected corridors initiative to develop 5G smart roads. Participants include Microsoft, 3M and Kapsch TrafficCom.

The project will look at monitoring, sensorisation and simulation road infrastructure technologies to improve the traveller experience, including safety, reliable travel times and access to infotainment from the vehicle.

Other companies are expected to join AIVia contributing to the implementation of both digital and physical infrastructure and orchestrated services for the roads of the future. Collaborators will represent different domains such as signage, lane markings, technology, telecom equipment, digital services, ITS, V2X, road safety materials and work zone devices.

As private and fleet vehicles evolve towards full autonomy, connected infrastructures will play a critical role in safety and utility, especially in mixed high-speed environments where autonomous and conventional vehicles both travel.

“New technologies force us to rethink the world we live in,” said Alejandro de la Joya, CEO of Cintra, Ferrovial’s highway operation company. “We are proud that Cintra is at the forefront of digital road technology which is why we are excited to launch AIVia with our partners. AIVia connected corridors will increase road safety for users, facilitating safe interaction between autonomous and conventional vehicles in high-density and high-speed urban corridors. We can reduce travel times and congestion while offering a 5G broadband network along our highways.”

Jose Maria de la Fuente, manufacturing and infrastructures industry manager for Microsoft, added: “Microsoft’s participation in the AIVia initiative is a great opportunity to execute on our mission of empowering every person and organisation to achieve more. Applying our latest cloud technologies like IoT, data and AI, our aim is to be the technology backbone of AIVia for a better, connected and safer mobility.”

AIVia will implement high-speed technologies in mixed traffic to improve the traveller experience and enhance safety for highway maintenance personnel and road users.

“This initiative offers a long-term vision for the development of orchestrated and connected corridors, as well as an immediate focus on physical improvements, increasing sensorisation, and 5G and V2X connectivity in the corridor to increase road safety for the users and to support autonomous connected vehicles,” said Dimitris Bountolos, general director of information systems at Ferrovial.

Another participant is 3M, which will bring retro-reflective sign sheeting, pavement marking, temporary traffic control, vehicle registration, conspicuity, and road safety asset management software.

“At 3M, we’re dedicated to improving transportation infrastructure and mobility so that all road users can arrive at their destinations safely,” said Daniel Chen, 3M vice president. “We’re delighted to bring our innovative technologies and portfolio of products to this joint endeavour.

At the beginning of 2020, Ferrovial announced its Horizon 24 Plan, which established the company’s growth focus on the development of sustainable infrastructure with projects of high concession value and designated North America as a key market for growth and development.

This initiative reinforces Ferrovial’s commitment to North America, its main market by revenue. The company has five managed lane projects in its portfolio in Texas, Virginia and North Carolina.

Ferrovial has worked with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a decade to support research projects aimed at transforming cities and developing the infrastructure of the future.

“We look forward to partnering with Ferrovial and to jointly exploring the exciting possibilities for connected and autonomous vehicles in North America,” said Alfredo Escriba, chief technology officer of Kapsch TrafficCom. “As a provider of intelligent transportation systems (ITS), our connected services technologies provide the technical infrastructure that enable critical safety and mobility applications. A comprehensive and coordinated approach is a necessary step towards developing a digitally-connected transportation infrastructure of the future.”