connected vehicles

DOT funds 8 automated driving research projects

The accommodation of automated vehicles on the nation's roadways got a boost from the Department of Transportation, which awarded $60 million under its Automated Driving Systems Demonstration Grant program.

A team of industry, academia and community partners in Ohio won $7.5 million to develop and deploy automated transportation solutions for rural roads and highways. The partners will test automated driving systems in all seasons, day and night on both paved and unpaved roads. Some testing will also occur during periods of limited visibility and in work zones.

 “Although 97 percent of the nation is rural, and more than half of all U.S. traffic fatalities occur on rural roads, most of this testing to date in other states has been conducted in urban areas," said Jack Marchbanks, director of the Ohio Department of Transportation. "The lessons we learn in Ohio can have enormous benefits for our own state and nationwide as we work to make our transportation system safer.”

Another $7.5 million went to partners looking to boost research, development and testing of self-driving cars.  The City of Detroit, the state of Michigan, the University of Michigan and the American Center for Mobility will develop a process to evaluate the safety of automated driving systems. Testing will take place on the streets of Detroit, at the robotic-car test facilities at the University of Michigan's Mcity and the American Center for Mobility's proving ground in Ypsilanti, Mich.

The partners will also explore services and business models involving driverless vehicles can improve the quality of life for the senior population.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, meanwhile, received $15 million for two separate projects. One project will address how vehicles equipped with automated driving systems can safely interact in a Northern Virginia corridor optimized for vehicle automation. The other project will develop and demonstrate a concept of operations for the trucking industry that includes clear guidelines on how to safely implement and benefit from trucks equipped with automated driving systems.

 Other winners include:

AVA: Automated Vehicles for All, a proposal from Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station will develop a scalable approach to safely integrate cooperative automated vehicles – those that cooperate and interact with their socio-cyber-physical environments --  into the nation’s transportation system.

In its ADS for Rural America project, the University of Iowa proposes to demonstrate challenges to the safe integration of automated driving systems into rural roadways and make the data publicly available to researchers.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's project, Safe Integration of Automated Vehicles in Work Zones, looks to develop a consistent approach to allow for AVs to safely operate in work zones.

The Transportation Authority of Contra Costa County in California proposed three autonomous vehicle projects that will gather data and develop safety performance measures to help in the development of implementation standards across the nation

More than 70 projects nationwide had competed for the DOT grants. The program aims to gather significant safety data to inform rulemaking, foster collaboration among state and local government and private partners and test the safe integration of automated driving systems on the nation’s roads.

This article was updated Sept. 18 to include DOT's announcement of all eight winners and applicants.

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