LONG ISLAND CITY — New York's cars and cabs are getting wired.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is providing $20 million to launch a pilot program in New York City that will outfit thousands of cars, taxis and buses with smart technology to make the streets safer for drivers and pedestrians, officials announced Monday.
The Connected Vehicle Pilot program will equip up to 10,000 vehicles with wireless devices that allow drivers to get real-time information from other vehicles on the road, and from infrastructure like traffic lights, officials said.
The goal would be to alert drivers to potential hazards — like a stalled car up ahead or a nearby vehicle in their blind spot — in order to curb crashes and potentially ease traffic.
"Imagine having a car that is equipped with technology that can correct human errors," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said as he announced the program at the city's Traffic Management Center in Queensboro Plaza.
"Imagine riding a bicycle through a transit stop during rush hour or walking across a busy street, except now as a bicyclist or as a pedestrian, you can communicate with the drivers and infrastructure surrounding you," he said.
The program will be developed over four years, and design plans for what the smart devices will look and sound like are expected to start being developed in the next few weeks, officials said.
The vehicles that will be getting the technology as part of the pilot will include city-owned cars — including the Department of Transportation's own fleet — MTA buses, taxis, UPS trucks and trucks from other local trucking companies.
Smart devices will also be installed on traffic lights along First, Second, Fifth and Sixth avenues in Manhattan between 14th and 67th streets, and on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn between Tillary Street and Grand Army Plaza, according to the DOT.
Cars with the technology will be able to get alerts with information from traffic lights and other vehicles that also have them. The pilot also aims to create a smartphone app that pedestrians and cyclists could download, which would automatically alert nearby drivers as they cross the street.
"The goal obviously is to design a technology which is affordable, which is easily deployable, which will save lives, which will improve traffic flow," NYC Department of Transportation Polly Trottenberg said.
The federal program is based on another that was tested in 2012 in Ann Arbor, MI, and is one of three similar initiatives being launched this year, with others taking place in Wyoming and Tampa, Fl.
Officials said the program will help the U.S. DOT test how to most effectively use smart "Vehicle to Vehicle" technology in cars, which Foxx predicts will eventually be the norm across the country.
"This is not a pipe dream...this is coming for certain," he said. "New York City will show the world what this technology can do."