Challenge Seattle wants to create smart cars and smart highways

By: Essex Porter

Updated:

SEATTLE - Student engineers at the University of Washington are working on the high-tech innovations needed to ease your commute.

It's part of Challenge Seattle, the visionary group created by leading companies like Microsoft to tackle the region’s most challenging problems.

”The future of transportation requires not only smarter cars but smarter streets. And that's what this pilot project will let us all innovate on together,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith at the announcement.

Smith says Microsoft will host a pilot project at the Redmond campus for cars that actively assist drivers.

The ultimate goal is to make your commute safer and easier.

“If vehicles are able to talk to each other, we can be managing that spacing between vehicles. Or even alert to hazards that may be miles away on the highway but the message is being passed back to all of the vehicles or through the highway itself and that gives drivers they information they need in order to change their route," said UW Transportation Services Director Joshua Kavanaugh.

Another project might use real-time data to maximize the use of mass transit.

“How can we take advantage of the capacity we have right now, whether that's lanes or seats or buses and using those more efficiently make everybody's life a lot better."

Former Governor Gregoire is CEO of Challenge Seattle and promises this is not just about pushing people out of their cars.

“Whatever it is going to take for us to understand where the individuals of the community are with regard to transportation, where really are their frustrations how do they see the future, what do they need and what do they want,” she said.

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