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Fort Worth sole Texas city to receive $2 million grant funding

17 Apr 2024 10:30 PM | Stacy Hollingsworth (Administrator)

Published on April 17, 2024

Of the 300 proposals submitted from across the U.S., the City of Fort Worth, in partnership with North Central Texas Council of Governments, has been awarded $2 million through the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants funding.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) announced Fort Worth is one of the 34 recipients of the Fiscal Year 2023 Planning and Prototyping Grants. The project will pilot low altitude weather sensors of freight routes used by autonomous vehicles (AV).

Why it matters: The project will provide insight in technology solutions to enhance safety and trip reliability in our changing environment. Adverse weather conditions pose significant challenges to the performance and safety of AVs. Weather phenomena like severe rainfall and dense fog can degrade the accuracy of critical vehicle sensors, potentially leading to inaccuracies affecting vehicle performance during hazardous road weather conditions.

Microclimate sensors offer a solution by providing precise, real-time localized weather data, enabling AVs to adapt to varying weather conditions and make informed decisions to enhance operational safety and reliability. The pilot will be used at the Alliance Truck Port.

Go deeper: In the winter of 2021, a tragic vehicle pileup unfolded on Interstate 35 in Fort Worth due to treacherous icy conditions, particularly black ice, which went unnoticed by drivers. This incident involved 130 vehicles, including cars, trucks and 18-wheelers, resulting in a nightmarish crash scene spanning nearly a mile.

Tragically, six lives were lost, and numerous others were injured. Notably, many of the 18-wheelers involved were fully loaded and headed to the Intermodal Truck Depot at Perot Field Fort Worth Alliance Airport for regional distribution. This disaster could have been avoidable if the appropriate weather sensors had been in place to warn drivers of the impending danger.

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