Windsor company aims to make roads safer with technology

A Windsor-based company is standing out at large auto-technology conference taking place in Detroit this week.
Detroit has installed these roadside units developed by Arada Systems (white box) , that communicate with smartphones while while people are driving. (Makda Ghebreslassie/CBC )

A Windsor-based company is standing out at a large auto-technology conference taking place in Detroit this week.

Praveen Singh, is the CEO of Arada Systems, a company that makes special computerized systems that can better direct motorists.

The technology connects drivers, pedestrians and intersections by mounting the computerized systems on traffic lights and inside vehicles so they can navigate streets more effectively.

"One of the primary goals of this technology is safety," said Singh. "To avoid collisions, crashes, all of these things can be avoided if you have more information about what other vehicles and pedestrians are doing on the road."

Singh said Detroit is taking a very strong lead in using the company's technology and hopes Ontario will do the same.

Michigan has recently agreed to equip a little more than 400 kilometres of roadway with systems that can communicate with cars.

"What needs to happen in Canada, as well, is there needs to be a promotion of this technology, and we're working very actively with the Canadian government to show that this technology is important and they need to open it up in terms of having more deployments," he said.

Singh said the technology could help with cross border traffic, especially at the busy Ambassador Bridge.

Praveen Singh, is the CEO of Arada Systems, says the new computerized systems are meant to better direct motorists and make roads safe. (Lisa Xing/CBC )

"If you look on the bridge you'll see a lot of trucks idling for hours to cross the bridge. If you had these trucks connected both to the infrastructure and to themselves they could make smart decisions," he said.

Singh said they want to put a system in place where trucks heading to the U.S. from Toronto via the 401 would know what to expect at the border.

"We're looking at creating systems where as they're driving in they can make those intelligent decisions of whether they should go to Windsor, Sarnia, whether they should take a break, whether they should go eat dinner…all of these things make the whole network perform a lot better."

New auto technology focuses on safety

Hundreds of other tech companies and dozens of auto companies are also displaying their new innovations at the conference.

They are all intended to make diving safer and smoother.

"[In] 90 per cent of crashes, human factors are involved in the crash, so if we can reduce the way that the human interacts with the vehicle or impacts...we can actually improve the safety of the driving experience for most drivers," said Jim Barbaresso, the vice president of Intelligent Transport Systems.

The technology isn't perfected yet, and much of it still depends on the strength of a cell phone signal.

"We're on the cusp of a transformation driven by connectivity and automation," said Barbaresso. "So what you'll see out here are, for example, driver-less vehicles and also trucks that will platoon along highways or connected vehicles that would actually communicate with one another. They have 360 degree awareness of what's going on around them to avoid crashes and this is so important to society and driving down fatalities."

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