Peachtree Corners has been gearing up Technology Parkway for the past year to present its new 5G-enabled Curiosity Lab. It will not only help all forms of technology to be able to communicate with each other, but it will also help innovate the way technology is used. On Sept. 11, 2019, the Curiosity Lab officially opened to the public its 500-acre laboratory with new advanced technology, which includes a 1.5-mile-long test track that is being used to test autonomous vehicles on a public roadway.
The main purpose of this non-profit lab is designed to let many technological designers collaborate and get support from mentors and office space to help create their new startups that will hopefully be used shortly statewide. One of the main new excitements has been the Olli which is Local Motors self-driving shuttle that rides along Curiosity Lab’s test track.
On Oct. 1, 2019, two Olli shuttles were put to the test, transporting people all around Technology Parkway. Associate Director of the Curiosity Lab Caitlin Ferguson said, “Olli is a fully level five autonomous vehicle which means it is completely driving itself. It is taking data in, learning and making decisions as it goes.” This self- driving vehicle gives just a small glimpse of what the laboratory has to offer with all these new startups coming together.
The test track has started to become one of the most noticeable parts of the lab, however, Ferguson said, “This is not all the lab is comprised of, we also have smart poles, control of the airspace up to 400 feet and the right-of-way which is the sidewalks and crafts.” Ferguson said, “My role here is to support startups and smart city IoT.” Not only are multiple businesses coming together to create new technological developments, but major companies like Georgia Tech, Sprint and Delta are also investing in this new lab with hopes that it will continue to grow because they see the potential this place has.
The companies that are a part of the Curiosity Lab all have to go through a process to become a startup in the space. If you want to try and become part of the Curiosity Labs Incubator Space, Ferguson said, “You would tour with me and we would have an interview to understand what your goals are and if it is even something we can strategically support. Then you go through a series of interviews with our experts. Once you are accepted in, you must be smart city IoT mobility and under a million in annually occurring revenue.” When asked about what the Curiosity Lab’s main goal is, Ferguson said, “We want to be an innovation space for those that are doing cutting edge technology.”
With all the success that has come with the Curiosity Lab, there have also been some concerns about some of the traffic patterns inside of the parkway. Junior Ashley Binney lives by the Curiosity Lab and has occasionally driven through it to use the road as a cut-through. Binney said, “The place itself looks amazing, but the roads are very narrow which sometimes causes the drive to be sort of scary.”
Bible Department Chair Glenn Archer was asked the same about the narrowness of the lanes, and Archer said, “Yes, they seem so narrow. I have driven the Wesleyan buses and my truck, and it feels like I am about to knock down every pole that protects their vehicle test track. There are zero margins for error.” There have been many other Google reviews that have been made that make similar points to what Binney and Archer pointed out.
Even though some people are doubtful about the idea of this test track, others are still curious about what is going on in the lab itself. The Curiosity Lab has come a long way in the past year and still has hopes of growing as an incubator space for business startups. The future possibilities this lab has are endless and people and companies are excited to see how far the Curiosity Lab will go.