Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the type of zone that can be identified by the technology. It can signal a work zone situation.
DETROIT -- General Motors and the Michigan Department of Transportation have collaborated to develop vehicle-to-infrastructure technology that detects smart traffic signals, taking small but promising steps in transportation safety measures for the state.
Several development models of the Cadillac CTS -- which GM said in March will be equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology starting this year -- were successfully alerted to soon-to-change traffic signals at two intersections just outside GM's Warren Technical Center.
The vehicles received data via dedicated short-range communication technology from MDOT's connected and automated vehicle team. The traffic signals emit information every one-tenth of a second. Once every second, a digital representation of the intersection is beamed to all vehicles capable of receiving the data.
From there, adapted vehicles can crunch the numbers and advise drivers on how to proceed, giving them enough time to respond to a close call before it's too late.
"This alert helps avoid the dangerous decision to either brake abruptly or accelerate through a busy intersection," said General Motors spokesman Chris Bonelli. "It is designed to allow the driver more time to safely react to the road conditions ahead."
Bonelli would not comment on future vehicle connectivity protocols, though he added the red light violation alert is just one of the V2I features GM's r&d is exploring.
The vehicles do not transmit any identifying information such as vehicle identification number, registration or MAC address in their messages, GM said in a release. If a connected car commits a traffic violation, the traffic signal would be capable of reporting a violation without identifying the vehicle.
Additionally, firewalls are in place ensuring the DSRC signals cannot be interfered with and are only exchanged between the vehicle and the infrastructure.
Though the technology focuses on red light interventions, future uses could include safety communications to the tune of warning vehicles about inclement weather, congestion, or even work-zone situations, according to Collin Castle, a member of MDOT's connected and automated vehicle team.
The smart signal technology is part of a push for the state to modernize safety measures for connected and autonomous vehicles.
A three-mile stretch of I-75 will contain different vehicle-to-infrastructure technology, making Michigan one of the first states to use the technology on such a large scale, The Detroit News reported.
The project, which will take four months to complete, will test bed emerging transportation technologies like roadside dedicated short-range communication devices, all-weather lane markings and retroreflective smart signs.
But seeing V2I infrastructure installed en masse may take some time. The cost to retool each of the two intersections was $10,000. Federal funding earmarked for congestion mitigation and air quality reserves was used to cover the cost.
"The State of Michigan recognizes the need to remain at the forefront of developing this next-generation auto research. A majority of Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers have headquarters in Michigan, and with the industry becoming more tech oriented, we need to ensure top of the line testing capabilities reside right here," MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi said.
Audi of America premiered similar technology in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C., last year -- Traffic Light Information -- where select models outfitted with traffic-signal prediction technology would get a heads-up about light changes.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's mandate requiring V2V capabilities met with resistance in Washington. If passed, within four years all new light vehicles would require vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems.
The proposed federal mandate for V2V communication establishes DSRC as a common language, no such requirement exists for vehicle-to-infrastructure technology.