The Ray and 3M announced today the expansion of their partnership and ongoing work to improve transportation safety and help save American lives by advancing innovation and exciting technologies in the transportation sector. The collaboration, which began in 2018, has targeted existing and potential future opportunities to modernize ubiquitous road infrastructure to enable the predictable and safe operation of connected and autonomous vehicles.
With 3M’s world leadership in traffic safety solutions and The Ray’s proven record of innovation on their 18-mile highway living lab, the two organizations will leverage each other’s experience to identify and find solutions for their transportation safety and sustainability goals.
“We are very pleased to continue and deepen our partnership with The Ray,” says Dr. Dan Chen, Vice President of the 3M Transportation Safety Division. “The opportunities for us to collaboratively work on safety innovation grounded in real-life application and testing make this partnership especially valuable.”
In 2019, fatalities on U.S. interstates and highways topped 36,000. Highways are one of the most environmentally damaging and dangerous infrastructure systems in the world. This issue has only intensified with the COVID-19 pandemic. Though shutdowns significantly decreased the number of miles driven on U.S. roads in 2020, motor-vehicle deaths rose - with the mileage death rate increasing 23%.
The Ray and 3M are partnering to build a safe ecosystem for drivers, on our public highways, by examining the design and development of innovation opportunities including, but not limited to, the following:
- Smart Road Markers: By 2022, an estimated 105 million connected vehicles will be on our roads. The technology is needed to allow roads to communicate with both new, connected vehicles and to drivers of traditional vehicles. Solar-powered smart road dots can illuminate to convey a variety of crucial, basic alerts to drivers and passengers, including wrong way driving, road incidents like crashes and queues, and weather conditions that affect driving conditions, such as fog and black ice.
- In-road and Roadside Connected Infrastructure: To support the safe operation of autonomous and connected mobility, smart infrastructure is necessary to communicate with the evolving vehicles on our roads. The development of connected infrastructure on our interstates and roadsides will enable State DOTs to receive real-time, location-specific data from vehicles to improve roadway safety, ease congestion, identify maintenance needs and roadway interruptions.
- Digital Data-Management Platform: Managing and making sense of the inputs and data sets collected by smart infrastructure is critical for improving roadway safety and saving lives. Creating a cloud-based data management network will allow the information collected from smart vehicles by road sensors to be used for law enforcement, first responders and traffic safety officials.
“Smart vehicles need smart infrastructure. We already have vehicles with the capability to “talk” with each other on our roads,” said Harriet Anderson Langford, president and founder of The Ray. “Now we need the infrastructure on our highways to utilize those technologies and create a safer environment for drivers. The Ray’s partnership with 3M builds on our shared goals to support the future of transportation technology and saves lives.”
In December of 2019, The Ray and 3M, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation, restriped all lanes on 13 miles of The Ray Highway’s 18-mile highway corridor on Interstate 85, from the Georgia-Alabama border to Exit 13-LaGrange, with Connected Roads All Weather Elements optic technology. Striping with 3M optics provides visibility daytime, nighttime and in dry or wet weather conditions, which is made possible with unique 2.4 (wet) and 1.9 (dry) refractive index bead technology that supports autonomous vehicles with machine vision systems.