Researchers testing cars and roads that talk to each other

Edmonton is first Canadian city to test technology aimed at improving traffic safety.


Smart vehicle technology is being used on the streets of Edmonton, making it the first Canadian city to see cars “communicating” with each other and with roadside infrastructure in an effort to improve road safety.

The new technology uses a wireless device that exchanges information between connected vehicles in real time with roadside equipment, such as traffic lights or message signs. It also alerts drivers motorists  to hazards, such as whether they’re speeding or following too closely. It can also tell drivers if they are going to make it through a green light at an upcoming intersection or if they should prepare to stop.

"This opens up all sorts of possibilities," said Karim El-Basyouny, a civil engineering professor who is a member of the project team. "This technology is going to revolutionize the way we think and move."

The technology, being tested under the ACTIVE-AURORA research initiative at the University of Alberta, was announced at the International Conference on Transportation Innovation in Edmonton Sept. 16.

“ACTIVE-AURORA will be a data-driven test bed for the whole region,” said Tony Qiu, a civil engineering professor and director of the U of A’s Centre for Smart Transportation. ACTIVE-AURORA is a partnership involving all three levels of government—Transport Canada, Alberta Transportation and the City of Edmonton—as well as the U of A, the University of British Columbia and several industry partners.

“Collaborative initiatives such as ACTIVE-AURORA, supported by all levels of government and with partners in industry and academia, ensure the development of new technologies that have an immediate and direct impact on the public good. This project has the potential to improve public safety and ensure the safe and timely delivery of people,” said Fraser Forbes, dean of engineering at the U of A.

Qiu noted that an agreement has been signed to bring the technology to China.

"This shows how our research from ACTIVE-AURORA will be exported globally.”