The test site spanned 78.5-square-mile at the the Fulton County School System, one of Georgia’s largest school districts in Alpharetta, an Atlanta suburb.
Audi began the project in 2020 with school bus maker Blue Bird; the city of Alpharetta; Fulton Co. School System and Temple, Inc. The partners tested C-V2X through both LTE and 5G networks with the Fulton County School System. Over 130 connected traffic signals formed part of the connected infrastructure.
The deployment leveraged C-V2X solutions provided by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and Commsignia, to test roadside units (RSUs) from Applied Information, which were mounted in flashing speed limit signs near school zones.
A 2021 Audi e-tron Sportback electric SUV and a propane-powered Blue Bird school bus were also equipped with Qualcomm Technologies’ and Commsignia’s C-V2X solutions. This initial deployment demonstrated that when active in school zones, the RSU is designed to send a direct, low-latency signal to the connected Audi, alerting the driver with a visual warning and audible signal to slow down. The technology can warn drivers when they’re entering an active school zone or approaching a school bus to reduce risks for children and vulnerable road users.
Similarly, when a Blue Bird school bus extends its stop arm, it alerts oncoming traffic that children may be entering or exiting a school bus. This is especially helpful on curvy or hilly roads where a driver might not be able to see the bus.
Studies show that stop-arm violations—when a car drives past a stopped school bus illegally—continue to be one of the most significant dangers to children and other vulnerable road users around school buses with an estimated 17 million stop-arm violations in the US in 2019.
Moving forward, the partners see significant opportunities to deploy C-V2X systems nationwide so that vehicle manufacturers, companies that create roadside infrastructure, and local authorities can deliver increased road safety that particularly benefits school children.
Additionally, vehicles with built-in infrastructure, such as the Blue Bird school bus used in this deployment, demonstrate how vehicles can communicate with road signs and traffic-control devices and opens up opportunities to use in different public vehicles, such as buses, emergency vehicles, and other service equipment.