Connected and Automated Vehicles

Technology could mean zero fatalities

Connected and autonomous vehicles will revolutionize transportation in the U.S. They will bring a host of benefits including improved mobility for the elderly and disabled, enhanced connections to transit, and most importantly, improved safety. In fact, as these technologies emerge and improve, they could help drive traffic fatalities to near zero.

According to HNTB’s latest America THINKS survey, The Road to Autonomous Vehicles – 2018, 70 percent of Americans believe autonomous vehicles will be commonplace in the U.S. within 15 years. Safety is a concern, with 59 percent of respondents expressing thoughts that autonomous vehicles are not as safe as vehicles operated by people. However, as self-driving technology continues to advance, these vehicles will ultimately prove to be safer.

Defining the future
Connected and autonomous (driverless) vehicles fall under the umbrella of intelligent transportation systems, technologies that have been prominently featured in mainstream media over the past few years.
 
  • ITS is defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation as the application of advanced information and communications technology to surface transportation to achieve enhanced safety and mobility while reducing the environmental impact of transportation.
  • Connected vehicles essentially “talk” to infrastructure and other vehicles electronically.
  • Automated vehicles take connected technology a step further by eliminating the need for a human driver.

Creating a $35 billion industry
It has been estimated that intelligent vehicle technology will eventually be a $35 billion industry in the U.S.

Many of today’s vehicles already feature advanced sensor systems that involve video, radar and Lidar, a laser-based technology that continually and accurately scans and maps the environment around the vehicle.

In fact, consumers now can buy vehicles that, within a few years’ time, will receive software updates, equipping them to be on the roads without drivers. And, it is widely believed there will be fully autonomous cars on America’s roads this year.

Adopting ITS at the state level
Several state departments of transportation are showing interest in, or are actively seeking, intelligent transportation systems solutions in anticipation of the coming technology. Implementing ITS can create:
 
  • Safety benefits
  • Increased highway capacity
  • More reliable travel times

States, such as Florida, have passed legislation for connection and automation that can offer life-saving, community-enhancing transportation advancements that the federal government and U.S. auto industry already embrace.

HNTB has AV/CV experts in offices across the country. The firm is at the forefront of the movement and has helped advance vehicle test tracks, truck parking, smart cities and transportation technology.

Future implications
As the influx of connected and autonomous vehicles reaches American roads over the next decade, many sweeping changes to our transportation network are expected. Connected and autonomous vehicles also have the potential to significantly impact urban design and real-estate developments, and spark change in land-use in cities across the nation. Although this may seem farfetched now, if autonomous vehicles eventually become one of the primary modes of transport, people may be able to work, eat and sleep while occupying their vehicles. More insights can be found in this 2018 Viewpoint

HNTB Experts

Jim Barbaresso is HNTB’s ITS practice leader. He has been involved in a number of projects related to the national autonomous vehicle and connected vehicle initiative, including designing and building one of the first live test beds with the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Greg Krueger, PE, is HNTB's program director for emerging technologies in transportation. Previously, he was manager of the U.S. Department of Transportation Southeast Michigan Connected Vehicle Test Bed, where he oversaw the day-to-day operations and technology enhancements for the original proof-of-concept facility.

Selected HNTB Thought Leadership
 
Selected media