Ohio Turnpike plans alerts system for tech-connected cars

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Officials are planning a new system of travel alert information for part of the Ohio Turnpike near Cleveland with an eye toward a day when autonomous vehicles might regularly cruise the roadway.

The Turnpike Commission will use roadside sensors and other technology to produce traffic and weather alerts that could serve self-driving vehicles, the Plain Dealer reported . For now, the data about factors such as foggy conditions and snowplow angles could serve newer vehicles equipped to receive digital short-range radio signals and display the results for drivers.

The commission approved a $1.46 million contract with Logicalis for Cisco Systems equipment and software. Under the program, $65,000 from the contract will be set aside for the subcontractor GoldTech of Ohio.

The turnpike project is a part of the new DriveOhio initiative. The campaign calls for the state Department of Transportation and the state Department of Public Safety to promote vehicle communication technology. DriveOhio is also expected to attract tech industry leaders for experiments.

"The Ohio Turnpike is embracing its role on the forefront of transportation technology," Ohio Turnpike Executive Director Randy Cole said. "We expect immediate safety and efficiency benefits," Cole added.

Crews are currently working on related tech work along the Turnpike. Fiber optic cables that are already in place will be linked to sensors.

The technology should be in use by early next year between Amherst and Streetsboro. Turnpike officials say if the results are good, they might expand it along the 241-mile toll road.