Representatives from NASA, the U.S. Army, the California Department of Transportation and the Texas Department of Transportation were among those gathered at the RELLIS Campus Feb. 28 for a validation of groundbreaking connected vehicle research conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI).
Officially called a Technology Readiness Level Assessment, TTI researchers repeated their demonstration of a hardware-in-the-loop simulation platform that could become the basis for testing connected vehicle applications. A similar demonstration was performed last summer for the project sponsor, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
“For three years, our team has been developing an enhanced hardware-in-the-loop simulation platform we call CONVAS, which stands for CONnected Vehicle Assessment Simulation,” TTI Research Engineer Srinivasa Sunkari, principal investigator for the project, explains. “The model we developed allows hardware components, like vehicles and traffic signals, to be introduced into the computer simulation to produce an augmented reality, without the danger of real-life traffic scenarios.”
Sunkari says the primary purpose of CONVAS is to help FHWA test and evaluate connected vehicle applications in a controlled environment, before they are deployed in the field.
As in other demonstrations of CONVAS, attendees were able to see how a connected vehicle reacts to simulated vehicles or roadway conditions, and simulated vehicles react to a connected vehicle in real time.
A secondary purpose of the CONVAS project is to evaluate a disrupted wireless communications connection. “Connected vehicle technologies all rely on wireless communications. But what happens when the wireless connection is disrupted or blocked?” Sunkari says.
Final reports are being written on the success of the CONVAS project. Meanwhile, Sunkari and his team are waiting to hear if a second phase of the project will be initiated. Phase 2 could involve the testing of a specific connected vehicle application.
“Regardless, CONVAS will likely be used in other TTI connected vehicle research, and, perhaps, connected vehicle technologies for The Texas A&M University System,” he says.