Study targets automated driving system challenges in dynamic situations

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Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) researchers are working with manufacturing, infrastructure owner-operator, and public safety industry personnel to study scenarios involving automated driving systems.

The $7.5 million U.S. Department of Transportation-funded initiative would also address ways to facilitate system communications physical infrastructure support.

“Virginia is proud of VTTI as the recipient of this USDOT grant,” Virginia Director of Transportation Research and Innovation Cathy McGhee said. “Our partnership in researching automated vehicles and their interaction with work zones and incident scenes is crucial in finding ways to reduce injuries and fatalities of those who work in and respond to events on our roadways. Law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, safety service patrollers, and others put their lives on the line every day to protect the public, and we must leverage this technology in ways that enhances their safety.”

The study’s scope of work over the next three years involves identifying solutions and building highly automated Level 4 reference vehicles, along with the connected infrastructure needed to support them. The project’s final phase calls for researchers to conduct three demonstrations to showcase the technology safely navigating challenging scenarios.

“Let’s say a car with no front-seat occupants approaches a freeway crash that is blocking lanes, and a police officer is directing traffic,” Mike Mollenhauer, director of VTTI’s Center for Technology Implementation, said. “How does the officer direct the car around the crash and then know that the vehicle will respond appropriately? This is just one of many scenarios for which industry, government, and academia must collaboratively provide solutions in order to enable public trust in this technology. VTTI and our project partners are honored to receive this grant and be entrusted with this responsibility.”