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Panasonic Wants To Create An App Store For Transportation With Its Partners

CRN gets a look at Panasonic’s connected vehicle technology. The open architecture of its CIRRUS software lets partners and developers connect their own applications to enhance safety.

Seat belts saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2017 and Panasonic’s Chris Armstrong believes that number could be even higher with what he calls the “digital seat belt.”

“We lose over 40,000 people a year on our roadways and this is like a digital protection layer that can help prevent many of those crashes that are killing people every day,” said Armstrong, VP of V2X and CIRRUS at Panasonic.

Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology turns cars into sensors. By embedding the cars with the V2X devices, they communicate their data with roadside units and transportation officials. The analyzed results offer drivers and emergency response teams real time updates on traffic conditions.

“Cars have all of this really amazing data about what’s going on inside the car and what’s going on outside the car and V2X (or connected vehicle technology) is a standard that allows those cars to share information back-and-forth between each other and the infrastructure with a common language and common data standard that every car can understand,” said Armstrong.

Panasonic created the software as-a-service platform and opened it up for partners to use. CIRRUS by Panasonic uses cloud analytics to filter, translate and deliver all V2X data in real-time. The open architecture lets developers and partners add their own applications to the system.

“That’s where we are effectively trying to bring the app store mentality to transportation,” said Armstrong.

[Related: WATCH: Panasonic Tech Powers Everything From Harley Davidson’s Electric Bike To Colorado’s Roads]

It’s been nearly a year since Panasonic introduced the first real-world application of the technology in Colorado, following a $70+ million partnership with the state. Colorado transportation officials say there could be as much as a 400 percent increase in roadway efficiency with wide-scale deployment. In June, Panasonic announced that it will bring its technology to Utah next.

“Some of the emphasis and some of the focus that Utah has is on traffic signals and they have over a thousand traffic signals throughout the state that they control directly. So, one thing that we’ll do in Utah on a more accelerated path than Colorado is we’ll focus on how this technology can help move vehicles through traffic signals more effectively,” said Armstrong. “Today, transportation agencies have a lot of tech on the side of the road to help make traffic signals more efficient and, just like other things, these vehicles can provide the information that’s needed to manage traffic through a major corridor more efficiently.”

It all comes as the rise of smart cities worldwide has some activists sounding the alarm over privacy concerns, like in Toronto where a campaign is underway to stop Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs smart city project. CRN asked Panasonic how it maintains privacy and anonymity in its devices. Watch CRN’s video to learn more.

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