A city in Kansas has approved a 10-year pilot program to deploy a smart pavement technology at five intersections in a public-private partnership. The P3 marks a step forward in deploying the technology, which entails precast concrete road sections embedded with digital technology and fiber optic connectivity for traffic data collection through in-roads sensors, Wi-Fi, 5G and more through antennas in the expansion ports, edge services and cloud access and wireless electric vehicle charging.
At a Lenexa city council meeting April 19, members approved a resolution to allow Integrated Roadways to begin design for the first of five intersections, accepting a $250,000 innovative technology program grant from the Kansas Dept. of Transportation, according to the meeting minutes. KDOT first tested the technology on a section of Interstate 35 in 2013.
The technology was invented by Tim Sylvester, founder of Integrated Roadways. The technology was further tested in Denver in 2018. “Just as an app manufacturer needs a phone to deploy the app, we needed a section of smart roadway,” Sylvester says. “All we wanted to do was get that proof of concept down. After the tech demo with Colorado, we [began] looking for a client that wanted to go big and transform infrastructure for connected vehicles.”
That client is Lenexa, a city of more than 57,000 people. “I call it a concession because we took the market approach that cellular and cable companies did – a master implementation and any improvements without the bid-let process,” says Sylvester.
The company vows to upgrade 20% of the city’s infrastructure over 10 years. In addition to wirelessly charging vehicles, the embedded pavement blocks will gather data for planning, operations and real estate development. “We’re democratizing access to roadway traffic information so that participants in the local economy are on even footing with online retail, delivery services and major chains,” says Sylvester, referring to local independent businesses.
He compares the precast concrete blocks to a computer shell. “What do you want to put in it? Graphics card? Storage space? We adapt that thinking to a roadway. We can put snow and ice melters in there; weather and pollution sensors. We can put wireless chargers in the road so that electric vehicles never have to plug in.”