Fla.’s Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) is preparing to test and deploy new technology designed to improve transportation in downtown Tampa as part of its Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment project.

The agency’s vehicle systems integration partner — Brandmotion, of Southfield, Michigan — selected three companies to provide the cutting-edge communications equipment that will make the project possible: Commsignia and Savari of Santa Clara, Calif., and SiriusXM of New York City.

Later this year, the Tampa Connected Vehicle Pilot will begin equipping buses, streetcars, and privately-owned vehicles with technology that will enable them to communicate with each other and with traffic signals, crosswalks, and other elements of the transportation infrastructure. Pedestrians may also participate by downloading and using a smartphone app. The goal is to provide equipped drivers, transit riders, and pedestrians in downtown Tampa a range of safety and mobility benefits, including crash prevention, enhanced traffic flow, and greenhouse gas reductions.

Vehicles participating in the pilot project will require in-vehicle displays, antennas, and radio communication devices called onboard units. Commsignia, Savari, and SiriusXM will supply the onboard units, which communicate with each other and with roadside equipment. Brandmotion is responsible for systems integration and testing. Researchers will compare the units’ performance and measure the effectiveness of the overall system.

Tampa was one of just three sites in the nation to be selected for the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program, which seeks to spur innovation among early adopters of connected vehicle applications. The four-year effort began in September 2015, when U.S. DOT awarded THEA a $17 million contract to implement its winning proposal. The project reached another milestone in September 2016, when U.S. DOT authorized THEA and its partners to proceed with the second phase, which includes design, testing, and deployment. The third and final phase, expected to begin in mid-2018, will involve the full-scale operation of connected vehicle technology throughout downtown Tampa.

To implement the pilot project, THEA has assembled a team that includes HNTB, Siemens, the University of South Florida Center for Urban Transportation Research, and Global-5 Communications. Key partners include the Florida Department of Transportation, the City of Tampa, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), the TECO Line Streetcar System, and Hillsborough Community College.

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