On Tuesday (15 September) U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx made a major announcement on the future of vehicles that will make driving safer, cleaner, and more efficient. At the New York City Joint Management Traffic Center, the Secretary revealed that New York City, Wyoming, and Tampa, FL will receive up to $42 million to pilot next-generation technology in infrastructure and vehicles to share and communicate anonymous information with each other and their surroundings in real time, reducing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and cutting the unimpaired vehicle crash rate by 80 percent.
As part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) national Connected Vehicle Pilot deployment program, the locations were selected in a competitive process to go beyond traditional vehicle technologies to help drivers better use the roadways to get to work and appointments, relieve the stress caused by bottlenecks, and communicate with pedestrians on cell phones of approaching vehicles.
“Today’s announcement is a big step forward for the future of how we move in this country, from our rural communities to our biggest cities,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “It has been a core mission of the Department to support promising new technologies, and through these types of smart investments, we are opening the door to a safer and cleaner network and expanding how future generations travel.”
New York City will install vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology in 10,000 city-owned vehicles; including cars, buses, and limousines, that frequently travel in Midtown Manhattan, as well as vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology throughout Midtown. This includes upgrading traffic signals with V2I technology along avenues between 14th Street and 66th Street in Manhattan and throughout Brooklyn. Additionally, roadside units will be equipped with connected vehicle technology along the FDR Drive between 50th Street and 90th Street.
The USDOT made an additional commitment to empowering cities to solve congestion and safety issues with connected vehicle technology by awarding $17 million to solve peak rush hour congestion in downtown Tampa and to protect the city’s pedestrians by equipping their smartphones with the same connected technology being put into the vehicles. Tampa also committed to measuring the environmental benefits of using this technology.
In Wyoming, the focus is on the efficient and safe movement of freight through the I-80 east-west corridor, which is critical to commercial heavy-duty vehicles moving across the northern portion of our country. Approximately 11,000 to 16,000 vehicles travel this corridor every day, and by using V2V and V2I, Wyoming DOT will both collect information and disseminate it to vehicles not equipped with the new technologies.
These connected vehicles will yield unprecedented levels of anonymous data that will be the basis for a multitude of innovative applications that will lead to smart vehicles, smart infrastructure, and ultimately smart cities. Research has found that the technology could reduce unimpaired vehicle crashes by 80 percent, while also reducing the 4.8 billion hours that Americans spend in traffic annually.
In 2012, the USDOT tested and proved connected vehicles’ life-saving potential in the largest real-world pilot of the technology to date, with over 2,700 equipped vehicles operating on the streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Participating vehicles used V2V safety technology to help everyday drivers avoid crashes as they traveled along their normal routines. Safety apps warned drivers of alerts such as braking vehicles ahead, vehicles in their blind spots, or impending red-light violations. USDOT’s efforts proved that connected vehicle technology indeed works in the real world and in a variety of vehicle types including cars, trucks, transit vehicles, motorcycles, and even bicycles.
The high level of interest that was prompted by the announcement of the Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program is a testament to the promise of connected and automated vehicles. With the Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program, the USDOT is now focusing on accelerating the deployment of the technology in more regions throughout the nation. The USDOT’s goals for the program are straightforward-advance deployment, measure impact, and uncover and address the technical and non-technical barriers to deployment in a hands-on way.
In addition, the Department announced in May steps to accelerate road safety innovation, including accelerating its timetable on a proposed rulemaking that will require the installation of V2V communications equipment in all new vehicles. The proposal is expected by the end of 2015. New cars with connected vehicle technology could be in our showrooms as early as 2016.
There will be more information about future pilot deployments in the coming months.