The Texas A&M Transportation Institute has been awarded a multi-year federal contract worth up to $10.75 million to evaluate connected vehicle pilot tests in several U.S. cities. TTI will conduct the evaluations for the U.S. Department of Transportation, for connected projects in southern Wyoming, New York City, and Tampa, Florida.
Connected vehicles are those that use wireless technologies to communicate with the driver, other cars, or the roadway, to improve mobility and safety.
A combination of challenges and opportunities, researchers say, has driven the need for the pilot tests and evaluations.
As roadway congestion in the U.S. remains a problem, crash injuries and fatalities continue at alarming rates, and a growing number of people — particularly younger people — are leaning away from private vehicle ownership in favor of safer shared-mobility options that are more efficient, reliable, and affordable. Also, a lack of transportation access is limiting opportunity for underserved populations.
At the same time, electronic and wireless technology advancements hold the potential to improve mobility in ways that don’t rely exclusively on building more roadway capacity.
“Applying technology to make transportation more efficient is one of the Texas A&M University System’s top research priorities,” says A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. “With TTI staff and the development of our new RELLIS Campus, we have both the talent and the facilities to serve as a leader in transforming the way Americans travel, and at the same time create ladders of opportunity for more Americans.”
To advance the adoption of these transformative approaches, the U.S. Department of Transportation has funded efforts in two areas, each of which will be evaluated by a team led by TTI and supported by several other public- and private-sector partners.
- Connected Vehicle Pilots Deployment Program, with projects in southern Wyoming, New York City, and Tampa, Florida.
- Beyond Traffic: The Smart City Challenge, which is providing up to $40 million in funding for technology-based mobility solutions in Columbus, Ohio.
The various technology deployments are intended to enhance safety, mobility, and environmental impacts of transportation. In addition, federal officials say, they involve a greater focus on providing all Americans with safe, reliable, and affordable connections to employment, education, health care, and other essential services.
“The work we will do for the FHWA will help to ensure that we’re bringing forth new solutions that take full advantage of the innovative communication technology tools that we have available to us,” said Dennis Christiansen, TTI agency director. “Connected roadways will become reality sooner than we think and have the potential to significantly change our transportation system.”
TTI’s team will be led by Research Engineer Kevin Balke and Research Scientist Mike Lukuc.