Development of Smarter Transportation is a Critical Component of the 21st Century System
The ever-changing landscape of transportation needs and new technologies — as well as funding issues and a rapidly growing population — have created a complex set of transportation issues for the state of Texas. The future of the transportation system is rooted in the effective development and use of technology, which can greatly enhance system capacity and safety, better control demand and reduce the need for additional infrastructure.
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) has recently joined forces with the Texas Department of Transportation to form the Accelerate Texas Center. The center is a public-private collaboration established to help position Texas to become the leader in the commercialization of automated-vehicle (AV) technology. The center will also serve as a catalyst for the development, testing and implementation of these technologies, with the goal of attracting substantial economic development to Texas. The owners of the Circuit of the Americas Formula One race track in Austin are also in discussions with Accelerate Texas regarding ways the track can support the initiative.
“Automobile manufacturers are already installing automated features into new car models, and many applications have been developed,” says TTI Associate Agency Director Ed Seymour, who directs the center. “With features like automatic cruise control, wipers that engage when the windshield detects water, and other technologies, AV applications promise to make our roadways both safer and more efficient in the long run.”
AV technologies have been the subject of both public and private research for some time, since the promise of safer, more efficient use of the existing transportation network has positive implications for almost every sector of the economy, national defense and society as a whole. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a decision on Feb. 3, 2014, that it will begin rulemaking to require vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology for light vehicles (cars). Rulemaking for this technology will commence later in 2014, with final rules in place by 2018 and marketplace requirements arriving in 2020. Both connected- and AV market forces are converging on the 2020 time frame. Accelerate Texas will seed the marketplace to encourage deployment in that same five-year window.
“Commercialization will create new economic activity, yielding millions of dollars in revenue and thousands of high-quality jobs,” explains Seymour. “Taken together, the benefits to Texas will rival any similar initiative in recent memory.”