The Proving Grounds Research Facility

For More Information

Lance Bullard
Senior Research Engineer
Roadside Safety and Physical Security Division
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Texas A&M University System
3135 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-3135
Ph. (979) 317-2855 Ext. 42855

More than…

50 years of safety research.
4,000 full-scale crash tests.
40 tons of truck brought to a screeching halt.

Research performed at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Proving Ground has saved lives for more than 50 years.

The TTI Proving Grounds has long been a place where TTI has conducted world-class research, technology development and testing in areas such as vehicle safety, traffic engineering, emissions, sediment and erosion control, pavements and materials, structures, roadside signs and markings, and more recently, connected and automated vehicles. The facility has multiple runways; aprons; and transportation-related pavements, signs and markings, soils, sensors, traffic operations, infrastructure and connected and automated vehicle testing sites in multiple locations on the 2,000-acre RELLIS Campus.

This facility is one of only two university-based centers of its kind in the United States where researchers perform product testing for clients from across the country, as well as test new TTI-developed roadside safety devices. An expanse of paved runways is ideally suited to perform full-scale testing of safety designs. Roadside devices, crash cushions, and barrier systems undergo the substantial testing that is required before field installations. The size of the facility provides realistic conditions for crash testing and friction pavement testing. Crash tests are conducted using a wide spectrum of vehicles, from subcompacts and three-quarter-ton trucks to 80,000-pound tractor-trailer rigs.

Other proving ground facilities include:

  • a hydroplaning trough for studying the phenomenon of vehicle hydroplaning,
  • a test track of 3.5 miles that permits simulation of freeway traffic conditions at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour, and
  • special pads designed for conducting tire skid tests on road surfaces of various textures.


Central and Western Field Test Center

indoor test facility - truck and trailer, with researcher inspecting the trailer's wheelThe Central and Western Field Test Center is one of two national reference centers for friction trailer calibrations in accordance with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Engineers use carefully monitored reference pavements and an ASTM friction trailer to calibrate friction measurement systems for 25 state departments of transportation.

Outdoor Pendulum

tall outdoor pendulum apparatusThis equipment simulates low-speed (25 miles per hour) vehicle impacts on roadside appurtenances. The pendulum uses a 1,808-pound falling weight to induce known kinetic energy into a test article for evaluation of strength, energy absorption, and failure characteristics.

Parametric Measurement Facility

researchers working on car raised 6 feetThis facility measures a vehicle’s center of gravity and mass moments of inertia to determine its stability and performance in driving maneuvers. The test vehicle is attached to a support structure that sits atop a hydraulic spherical bearing. The vehicle is then tilted around the bearing to measure center of gravity and oscillated around the bearing to measure mass moments of inertia.

The Bogie Test Vehicle

four-wheeled vehicle with red steel structureThis vehicle is used to simulate a 1,808-pound passenger car in collision testing. Testing with this reusable vehicle, rather than a late-model car, substantially reduces the costs of crash testing narrow objects, such as sign supports and lighting poles.