The Atlanta suburb of Peachtree Corners, Georgia has been quietly innovative in its relatively short history. Recapping the town’s beginnings, StateTechMagazine.com traces the location’s origins as a tech hub. The town was designed to appeal to recent graduates, to an expanding residential community and to an actual town that has embraced 5G technology.
The city of 50,000 incorporated itself in 2012, and controls its own destiny and resources. City manager, Brian Johnson, said, “We do a lot of conventional stuff like other cities, but we were looking for unconventional things, and we ultimately decided within the tech ecosystem we could take something we’re uniquely qualified to leverage, and that is being the sole owner of public infrastructure. We can enhance that public infrastructure and make it available to private technology companies and let them use it for their research, testing and demonstration.” Peachtree Corners partnered with Sprint, and the 5G investment began.
Like other smart cities that Inside Towers has profiled, the Georgia location has traffic lights that operate on a city grid. The software that keeps the traffic moving is also able to identify problem license plates and direct police to the questionable vehicle.
Unique to Peachtree Corners is Curiosity Lab, a venture that designs and tests IoT possibilities and operates a test track for self-driving vehicles. The track is a 1.5 mile section of road that is part of the living city. It incorporates real auto traffic and changes in road grades and speed that help provide feedback on how autonomous vehicles react in real life settings.
“Unlike the closed courses that are flat and open, we have a lot of control, as they can have 34 interaction points along this mile and a half that an autonomous vehicle or advanced vehicle has to interact with,” says Brandon Branham, CTO of Peachtree Corners. “It has a 13 percent grade change and sweeping curves. It has a tree canopy and buildings. There are all those effects of a real-world environment, so a lot of people who have come in have found out a lot about what their software can and cannot do when you put it into an environment like this.”
Residents have also gotten comfortable with Olli, a self-driving shuttle that runs along the test course through town. “The acceptance of autonomy was a big takeaway for us,” said Branham. Our residents are open to change, but when you deploy something this new, you’re always curious to see the reaction. We have had very, very positive feedback for the autonomous shuttle and the scooter operations.”
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