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A Connected World

Detroit hosts 2014 ITS World Congress in September

By Matthew Simich

Pages 44-45

Next year the world’s leading technology thought leaders will join notable transportation businesses from around the world in Detroit to showcase the latest ideas and innovations of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). From Sept. 7-11, 2014, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, in partnership with ERTICO (ITS Europe) and ITS Asia-Pacific, will host the 21st World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems at the Cobo Center in Detroit.

“Our theme, ‘Reinventing Transportation in our Connected World,’ is a great story of reinvention of our transportation systems,” said Jim Barbaresso, chairman of the organizing committee for the 2014 World Congress and vice president of ITS at HNTB Corporation, a national engineering consultant. “If you want to be a part of this reinvention, then you must come to Detroit.”

As the world’s foremost center in transportation innovation, with unparalleled capabilities in research and development, manufacturing and engineering talent, Detroit is the perfect venue to host the 21st World Congress.

The Detroit Regional Chamber is working in partnership with organizers to promote the event.As part of these efforts, the Chamber sent representatives from its economic development team to the 2013 event in Japan to highlight the Motor City as the destination of choice for 2014. The longterm economic benefits of leading the way in intelligent transportation systems also make the 2014 ITS World Congress a high priority, and fit with MICHauto’s overall goal of promoting, growing and retaining Michigan’s automotive industry.

“The competition to become the global epicenter for advanced, connected and autonomous vehicle technology is fast, furious and up for grabs,” said Benjamin Erulkar, vice president, economic development, new development strategies. “With the Detroit region already leading the way nationally, the 2014 ITS World Congress presents a tremendous opportunity to leverage our existing assets and establish Detroit as the global capital of this emerging sector.”

Detroit is the national leader in deployment of ITS. More than 200 miles of freeway in the metro Detroit area are covered with the latest ITS technology. More than 238 closed -circuit TV cameras constantly monitor the condition of the roadways, while 78 electronic message signs update drivers on any freeway construction or delays. There are also traffic signals that feature centralized and adaptive control systems to improve traffic flow.

“Detroit is made of grit, but we’re also made of silicon,” Barbaresso said. “No place on earth other than the Motor City offers such a rich environment for collaboration and demonstrates the changes that are taking place in transportation.”

The World Congress wants to show its attendees just what ITS can do. Companies and innovators will be using an environment of immersive experiences and jaw-dropping demonstrations at both Cobo Convention Center and Belle Isle. The Convention Center will have a flurry of activity covering every inch of its new 300,000-square-foot exhibition floor.

The Technology Showcase will be held on Belle Isle. More than 30 demonstrations will highlight the incredible technology on Belle Isle’s roadways. The signature initiative is a program called Safety Pilot. This program, which has successfully been launched in Ann Arbor with nearly 3,000 cars participating, outfits a car with the latest wireless technology. Through this connected vehicle technology, cars communicate with other cars and roadside infrastructure 10 times per second. Safety messages are sent between vehicles to provide warnings to drivers when a crash is imminent, when someone has run a red light, or when a car up ahead has braked abruptly. The vehicle has 360-degree awareness of its surroundings through connected vehicle technology, providing a new way to prevent accidents.

Several automated vehicle demonstrations including vehicles with advanced autonomous sensors and communications will maneuver the roads on Belle Isle without drivers. These vehicles will perform a variety of normal driving tasks such as lane keeping and parallel parking. Vehicle platooning technology, where cars are electronically tethered to a lead vehicle, will also be demonstrated.

The Congress will also feature the First Global ITS Festival held on Belle Isle on Sept. 9. Attendees will be able to network in the casual splendor of Belle Isle. They can participate in some of the showcase demonstrations and indulge in food, wine and other fine Michigan products.

Matthew Simich is a metro Detroit freelance writer.