Somerville, MA Partners with Audi to Prepare Cities for a Driverless Future

Somerville recently announced the Urban Future Initiative. The research partnership with Audi will begin seriously studying how driverless cars interact with urban space, and testing real-world solutions to make the most of it. Somerville is “kind of like the Brooklyn of Boston,” according to Hadley—one of the densest and youngest areas in the country, which helps push transit and innovation to the top of leaders’ agenda.  Hadley says that, though the project is still in its early stages, Somerville and Audi will be focusing on a few key areas: traffic signaling, parking, and on-demand transit. Audi and other automakers are hammering out standards for “smart city” communication that would, for example, let a traffic light wirelessly alert an oncoming driverless car of a red light. Somerville’s first move to integrate driverless cars, Hadley says, will probably be upgrading existing traffic lights with those wireless capabilities.