The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is seeking proposals from industry and transportation partners for innovative project ideas with the potential to advance connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies in the state.
The purpose of the initiative is to allow industry and transportation partners to develop, trial and demonstrate new and emerging CAV technologies in Minnesota, with MnDOT particularly keen to monitor and test how this technology works in cold and winter weather conditions. The agency desires a wide variety of project ideas from multiple organizations to establish Minnesota as a leader in CAV initiatives. The Minnesota CAV Challenge is an open, ongoing request to allow proposals to be submitted at any time. MnDOT anticipates several contracts will be awarded, depending on the size of projects submitted and available funding. Funding for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2019, is US$2m, and funding for the next two fiscal years (2020-21) will be US$3.5m each year. MnDOT will review proposals every two months, with the deadline for the first cycle is November 16. The second and third cycle deadlines are January 18, and March 15 next year.
The Minnesota CAV Challenge’s specific project goals include:
– Leverage public-private partnerships to advance transportation opportunities using CAVs;
– Prepare Minnesota’s infrastructure, policy and workforce for CAVs;
– Allow private industry opportunities to test and deploy advancing CAV technologies;
– Enable the public to better understand the benefits and limitations of CAV technology and provide opportunities for them to give input, experience the technology first hand, and provide feedback;
– Accelerate implementation of CAV technology in Minnesota.
As an incentive to potential CAV Challenge participants, MnDOT is offering its MnROAD test facility as an opportunity for manufacturers to test AV and CV technology in a closed and controlled environment. The site includes a 2.5 mile (4km) closed loop, and a 3.5 mile (5.6km) section of I-94 that can be closed to other traffic. As part of its long-term ambitions to study and prepare for future transportation needs in Minnesota, the agency is currently doing, or has completed, several CAV research projects, including:
– An Automated Shuttle Bus Pilot Project in partnership with 3M, Easy Mile, and First Transit;
– Connected Corridors projects to trial the use of dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) equipment in vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) applications;
– Development and demonstration of a cost-effective in-vehicle lane departure and advanced curve speed warning system;
– In-vehicle dynamic curve speed warnings at high-risk rural curves;
– Participation in AASHTO’s signal phasing and timing (SPaT) challenge;
– CAV partnerships with 3M, including sensor technology testing and custom vehicle wraps on the automated shuttle bus, smart code technology, and machine vision detection.
“This is an exciting time for emerging connected and automated vehicle technologies to be developed, tested and demonstrated in the state,” said MnDOT commissioner, Charlie Zelle. “We know there are many innovative companies and individuals who are working on this, and we want to hear their ideas so together we can solve the technology, policy, equity and social challenges associated with this transportation evolution.”