Sydney has become the latest city to test smart technology within their metropolitan infrastructure.

A three-month trial connects 100 freight vehicles to wireless technology that communicates with traffic lights, keeping the lights green as trucks approach the intersection. This allows trucks to pass through the intersection without the need to slow down, stop and then pull away again to help reduce congestion within the city.

The vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology has been a long time coming. The US began developing wireless access for vehicles in 2004. Europe began producing standards for protocols and applications for vehicular wireless access through the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in 2007. A regulatory framework for vehicle-to-everything (V2X) was established in the EU in 2014.

The Hamburg Port Authority in Germany tested the intelligent traffic light technology in 2015 within the port of Hamburg through a project titled smartPORT Traffic Light with partners NXP, Siemens, Heusch/Boesefeldt, and Hamburg Verkehrsanlagen, as reported by Car-Engineer. The technology helped to optimise the truck traffic flow, and efficiently and safely guided drivers through the heavily used port.

The trial in Sydney is an initiative by Transport for New South Wales in conjunction with the Roads and Maritime Services, using Cohda Wireless technology. Headquartered in Adelaide, Cohda Wireless is a supplier of software for the Connected Autonomous Vehicle market

The idea for Sydney’s Freight Signal Priority trial was one of two winners in the 2015 Premier’s Innovation Initiative in the congestion field, according to Transport for NSW. Cohda submitted one of two winning EOI proposals under the Premier’s Innovation Initiative in order to trial the innovative project. In addition to this trial, Transport for NSW also employs the Public Transport Information and Priority System (PTIPS), which is used on buses and light rail throughout NSW.

According to Andrea Ash, Cohda Wireless’s Vice President of Marketing, Sydney is Australia’s most advanced city and they will continue to work with other Australian states as well. The pilot study is ideal for Sydney as the project expands on an existing connected vehicle system, as reported by Traffic Technology Today. The existing system gives priority to public buses running late in Sydney. The Freight Signal Priority trial is a new use of the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS). In Adelaide, the O-Bahn busway uses Cohda’s Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) system to keep abreast of any breakdowns on the road ahead and the actions necessary to avoid problems.

The Sydney trial will follow 40 kilometres of important and busy freight routes in the region, according to a press release provided by Ash. The three entities will be working closely with each other to analyse the data derived from the three-month period of the trial. They will track vehicle travel time, speed, time to stop and start, fuel consumption, and emission estimates, as reported by Government News, an Australian online publication. Freight Signal Priority is expected to save 20% in travel time for truck drivers, according to a report by Business Insider Australia.

The Freight Signal Priority application will be evaluated after the trial is completed to test the impact of assigning priority to heavy vehicles on general traffic flows, both on the corridor and on adjoining roads, according to Transport for NSW. Another consideration for the trial would also be to evaluate any cost savings to freight operators due to reduced stopping costs. The success of the trial would indicate if there is scope to trial the technology for other purposes.