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Connected Vehicle Pilot Program Rolls

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This fall Approximately 3,000 vehicles in Ann arbor, Michigan, will be fitted with pilot safety devices that will alert drivers to congested intersections, changing traffic signals, and dangerous curves on the road ahead. Courtesy of WikimediaCommons/TheGoTeam 

Connected vehicle technology will be extensively tested in Ann Arbor, Michigan, beginning later this year to assess the safety benefits and driver acceptance of the systems. 

April 3, 2012—In the college city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, this fall, even the trucks, buses, and automobiles traveling Fuller, Plymouth, and Geddes roads will be involved in research. The picturesque home of the University of Michigan, less than 45 miles outside of Detroit, is the site of a large-scale pilot program to test connected vehicle (CV) intelligent transportation systems (ITS) in real world conditions.

The Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Program is part of a joint research effort by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration. The $14.9-million project will be conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).

Approximately 3,000 vehicles will be fitted with an assortment of safety pilot devices that utilize dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) technology to alert drivers to congested intersections, changing traffic signals, and dangerous curves on the road ahead. Devices will also be installed on 73 lane-miles of local highways, according to the USDOT, in written responses to questions from Civil Engineering online.

The routes chosen are major thoroughfares with signaled intersections, high traffic volume, sharp curves, and connections to the major highway system that surrounds Ann Arbor. DSRC units installed at intersections, curves, and other locations will broadcast messages about the phase of traffic signals ahead, roadway features, upcoming school zones, and curve speed warnings. Participating motorists will receive these messages through the device in their vehicle.

Late last fall and early this year, a series of driver clinics was conducted at six sites in the United States to assess how drivers responded to and accepted the in-vehicle alerts. For the pilot program, devices will be installed in a variety of vehicles that regularly travel the routes in Ann Arbor. Personal vehicles, commercial trucks, fleet vehicles at the University of Michigan, and cars supplied by the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP) will participate.

In addition to messages from highway infrastructure, drivers will receive information from other cars participating in the program. This information will range from blind spot warnings to drivers making emergency braking maneuvers ahead.

“The model deployment is being designed such that the number of interactions between equipped vehicles is maximized, thereby providing an ideal opportunity to test the robustness of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity as well as driver’s responses to these systems in a real-world environment, said UMTRI associate research scientist Jim Sayer, in an update published by the University of Michigan. Sayer will manage the program.

Engineering firm Parsons Brinkerhoff, headquartered in New York City, will manage the development and installation of the infrastructure components to be installed in the city of Ann Arbor, including roadside wireless devices, advanced traffic signal controller technology, and the wireless and fiber communications network needed to retrieve data, according to USDOT.

The main engineering challenge of the project is developing a trusted and secure connected vehicle communications system that ensures privacy, is tamper proof, and accomodates devices supplied by different manufacturers. Establishing interoperability and secure communications will facilitate the proper activation of various safety applications that enable drivers to avoid crashes, according to USDOT.

The pilot program begins in August and will continue for one year. Input from the devices will be monitored daily and the data will be analyzed by the Volpe Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to determine that program goals are being met.

The goal of the pilot program is to develop real world data about driver acceptance of the technology, the safety benefits, and how a connected vehicle environment operates. From the data collected, USDOT will analyze all aspects of the connected vehicle environment to determine the future of the technology. That future could include mandatory deployment, voluntary installation in new cars, or additional research and development.


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