With many of the vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) interested parties in attendance, the first annual Global Symposium on Connected Vehicles and Infrastructure took place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, May 14–16.
Hosted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), the symposium examined all the key issues of V2V and V2I and included the participation of four representatives from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). The event — cosponsored by TTI and ITS America —was attended by 200 people from around the world. Guests included U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood speaking at the opening session.
Most experts now agree that what was considered science fiction just a few years ago can be a reality within the next 5-7 years: most cars will be communicating with each other and the roadside infrastructure. Automation to support the driver, will be increasing. Driverless cars, already operational on a trial basis, may also be available in the next two decades. As a result of the coming transportation revolution, they say safety will increase, congestion will lessen and air quality will improve.
“We’re going to see a steady deployment of connected vehicles and infrastructure with a significant reduction in crashes and an overall improvement in the efficiency of our system,” says John Maddox, who helped organize the symposium. Maddox, who is director of Collaborative Program Strategies, works for both UMTRI and TTI and pursues teaming opportunities on projects for the two research organizations.
“TTI should leverage its infrastructure expertise because no one is emphasizing that side of the equation,” Maddox said. “I foresee a time when TTI could become the go-to place for V2I research involving safety and mobility communications applications.”
The research could include communication between vehicles and traffic signals, railroad crossings and roadside safety devices. It’s the type of infrastructure that TTI is intimately familiar with given its research portfolio.
During the symposium, Ginger Goodin, head of TTI’s Austin Planning Division, examined the infrastructure perspective from a policy standpoint, pointing out that state, county and municipalities all have a stake in the V2I dialogue. “I agree that there is a transformational change under way, and we are poised to do work in this area,” she said. “Luckily, we have an ongoing relationship with all of these stakeholders.”
TTI Agency Director Dennis Christiansen, who participated in one of the symposium’s sessions, fully expects TTI to conduct research going forward. “In regards to safety and congestion, connectivity will dominate the transportation landscape,” he says. “It’s not a matter of if it will happen, it’s a matter of how much happens and how soon it happens. The UMTRI symposium was a hugely success event, and it will be looked back on as the pivotal conference that began the connected vehicle and infrastructure dialogue.”