Mercedes helps Long Beach improve urban mobility

  • October 25, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

The city of Long Beach in California has entered a public-private partnership with car maker Mercedes-Benz and Xtelligent to improve urban mobility through connected car data.

Xtelligent is a US government backed transportation infrastructure venture with founding team members originating from research groups at the University of Southern California, University of California and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The partnership aims to develop transportation technology that will improve urban transportation management and enhance liveability and environmental sustainability in and around the city.

“This public-private partnership will keep Long Beach at the forefront of emerging transportation technologies,” said mayor Robert Garcia. “This project will showcase our city’s skilled workforce, provide more STEM learning opportunities for students, and represents our city’s continued commitment to building a technology focused ecosystem.”

The public-private project will span ten months and include:

  • Testing an intelligent intersection control system to adapt traffic signal timing safely at select intersections.
  • Data analysis from connected test vehicle fleets and existing physical sensors around the city to provide information that may improve future transportation policy and traffic engineering decisions.
  • A community youth workshop for Long Beach residents and students.

In alignment with Long Beach’s accelerator programme, the partnership supports the city’s efforts to work with local businesses on technology and civic impact while cultivating STEM opportunities for Long Beach students. Health and safety permitting, a community-based workshop will provide STEM education to local students, with an emphasis on under-resourced communities.

The project is also part of Long Beach’s smart city initiative to leverage data and technology as strategic tools to solve problems and improve the lives of Long Beach residents.

The public-private partnership with Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America and Xtelligent reflects Long Beach’s vision to advance environmental sustainability and digital inclusion to ensure everyone has equitable access and use of digital literacy training, the internet, technology devices and other digital inclusion resources. Solving transportation problems is also a focus of Mercedes-Benz, and this partnership offers the ability potentially to solve very real problems such as congestion and its associated emissions in urban areas.

“We are excited to partner with Xtelligent and the city of Long Beach to research solutions to urban transportation challenges,” said Philipp Skogstad, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America. “With our test vehicle fleet, we hope to provide key data to optimise traffic signal timing and reduce congestion.”

Data protection is a top priority and the parties say they are committed to using data responsibly. Mercedes-Benz and Xtelligent will only share test vehicle data with appropriate notices and consents, and any data that must be shared with third parties will be anonymised and aggregated.

“This partnership represents the best of what a forward-thinking city, leading automotive original equipment manufacturer and innovative venture can uniquely enable when collaborating towards a common, worthwhile goal,” said Michael Lim, cofounder of Xtelligent. “We’re excited to use our collective resources to develop and demonstrate how technology can improve the liveability, vitality and sustainability of Long Beach.”

Upon the pilot’s conclusion, the team will evaluate results and explore opportunities to scale the effort.

Home to approximately 470,000 people, Long Beach offers all the world-class amenities of a large metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighbourhoods nestled together along the California coast.

By integrating decentralised control algorithm research with sensing and learning capabilities, Xtelligent aims to improve traffic signal network control for cities and enable more cooperative, multimodal and sustainable urban transportation.