Tracking Your Car With High-Tech Highways

May 31, 2018

Colorado will be the first state in the country to test out so-called "smart pavement" on a stretch of highway this year.  The goal of these high tech roads is to make drivers safer.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is partnering with Integrated Roadways to install a half mile of high-tech road panels on a mountainous stretch of highway just outside of Denver later this year. Peter Kozinski is the director of CDOT’s $2.75 million “smart pavement” pilot project.

“These panels of pre-cast pavement,” he said, “have technologies that are embedded in them like sensors and fiber optics that can do a myriad of things for us.”

He said the roadway will be connected to “the internet of things” and can be programmed to call emergency responders when needed.  

“Not unlike how the tracking pad knows where your finger is,” said Kozinski, “these concrete pavement panels know where a vehicle’s tires are. So the pavement can let me know if somebody left the road unsafely.”

Kozinski said this can be especially useful in rural or mountainous areas where roads are more isolated and driving conditions are often more dangerous.

And when it comes to the extra cost of this highway technology, he said, “It’s going to cost us a little bit more but human lives are extremely important to us and we want to do everything in our power to preserve them.”

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana,  KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.