Fast Company has announced the winners of its World Changing Ideas Awards, which honor businesses, policies, projects, and concepts that offer innovative solutions to the issues facing humanity. The Ray’s smart road dot was selected for recognition as a World Changing Ideas finalist. All of the finalists are highlighted in the May issue of the print magazine.
Now in its second year, the World Changing Ideas Awards showcases 12 winners and more than 200 finalists. A panel of eminent judges selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 1,300 entries in 12 categories, from Food to Energy to Developing World Technology. Honorees include big-name brands like Microsoft and Walmart, nonprofits like the Anti-Defamation League and Unicef, government programs from Los Angeles and Ontario, and innovative startups like Aerofarms, Aspiration, and Matternet. The 2018 awards featured entries from across the globe, from India to Brazil to Rwanda.
The Ray was selected for its creation of never before seen, life-saving technology: a smart road dot. Standard, reflective road dots are deployed commonly across the country and around the world and are usually interspersed with lane lines and markings. The Ray’s smart road dot will use color to communicate critically-important data to drivers in real-time, such as the presence of “black” ice, heavy fog, an accident up ahead, or erratic drivers. The smart road dot has solar-powered LED lights with a backup battery, and autonomous functions enabled by a mesh network that acts in real-time and real-place with data generated from the road surface.
The next decade will see a tremendous shift in the way we drive and the technology in our vehicles. The Ray’s smart road dot ensures that the future road is advanced – not just our cars. And perhaps even more important, the smart road dot will level the information playing field between connected and autonomous cars, and “classic” cars. And unlike other smart, connected technologies, the smart road dot will shine in rural and ex-urban communities that are all too often left behind in smart city developments.
This innovation marks a shift in how we think about technology development. The smart road dot is one of the first instances of the public, private, philanthropic partnership model (P4) being used to bring to market new, life-saving technology. The Ray is the sole owner of the intellectual property and the holder of all patents.
John Picard, Vice President of The Ray, is co-lead on this project. "What we've done is game-changing," said Picard, "No one expects the road itself to be smart. And not only that but through color, we've given the road a way to communicate to all drivers. Real-time Information is key with the smart road dot and it's going to save lives."
The Ray and its UK-based consultants at Innovia Technology produced the first prototype of the smart road dot in 2017. The Ray will continue in 2018 to improve all aspects of the unit design to produce a version two prototype, ready for pilot testing and deployment.
Retired Boeing executive Alan Anderson serves as co-lead on this project and as Treasurer of The Ray. “Having spent my career in the commercial airplane business where there were no passenger fatalities in 2017, it is difficult for me to imagine that we lose 40,000 lives a year in automobile accidents,” said Anderson. “Technology has added distractions to driving, resulting in constantly increasing death rates; it’s time to apply technology to solve the problem. The smart road dot is an opportunity to add intelligence to our roadways, making them part of the solution. We need to always remember that zero isn’t just a goal – it’s achievable.”
About the World Changing Ideas Awards
World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners and finalists based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With a goal of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start work on solving the problems that affect us all.