Gwinnett self-driving car research partnership adds new test grounds

Peachtree Corners has added another partner to its self-driving car research facility.

Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners was announced by the city in January as part of a partnership with Sprint. In June, the city announced another partner: The Ray, a transportation technology company with a test track along a stretch of I-85 south of Atlanta.

The Ray describes itself as a “living lab” for transportation technology. It has worked with the Georgia Department of Transportation to pilot projects like the country’s first solar road and a tire safety station.

The test track and research facility was first announced in 2018. The city envisioned it as a way to transform Technology Park Atlanta into a hub for automotive innovation.

“When we became a city in 2012, we didn’t inherit a technology hotspot, we inherited an out-of-date office park,” Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason said in January.

The research facility has access to a 1.5-mile test track for vehicles. Through the partnership with The Ray, companies using Curiosity Lab’s facilities could also have access to the 18-mile stretch of I-85 that The Ray tests on in Troup County. Future partners will be able to test vehicles in a variety of scenarios and speeds.

“It’s really such a natural fit,” said Harriet Langford, founder and president of The Ray. “We’re a high-speed, public interstate in exurban Georgia, and Peachtree Corners’ smart city project is located within a 500-acre commercial park with slower speeds that encounter pedestrians, deliveries, and other elements that we don’t have on The Ray. By working together, we can cover so much more ground.”

The current test track in Peachtree Corners, along Technology Parkway, has a curved path that goes through a three-way intersection and passes driveways. The installation of a 5G network, part of a partnership with wireless network Sprint, is underway and will allow for vehicles to communicate with other electronic devices like drones, according to the city.

Prototype Prime, the incubator at the test track, already has 14 resident startups, with some dedicated to transportation and others focusing on issues including dental care, agriculture and video games. Once companies reach a certain size or level of profitability, they “graduate” from the incubator and make room for new ones.

The new partnership with The Ray has made Curiosity Lab and Prototype Prime increasingly appealing to potential new tenants, City Manager Brian Johnson said.

“We have already had inquiries from companies wanting to test everything from drones, to delivery to cybersecurity,” Johnson said. “Our collaboration with The Ray presents a compelling opportunity to test similar technology in very different environments.”

Like Gwinnett County News on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter and Instagram
Stay up to the minute with breaking news on Channel 2 Action News This Morning