Another of the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) newly designated national proving grounds for the testing of connected and automated vehicle technologies has released details of its proposed program.
The Texas Automated Vehicle (AV) Proving Ground Partnership includes the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Transportation Research (CTR), and 32 municipal and regional partners, all with a shared interest in mobility and safety challenges related to connected vehicles on public roadways. Selected from a pool of more than 60 applicants, the Texas AV Proving Ground Partnership joins 10 groups across the USA that will be instrumental in helping the USDOT provide critical insights using ‘big data’ to further develop guidelines for developing automated vehicle technologies. In working collaboratively, the goal of the program is to offer services that connect people to places of opportunity.
The Texas group will offer a full and varied range of testing environments, from high-speed barrier-separated managed lanes, to low-speed urban environments, such as university campuses, medical districts, and transit bus corridors. Both closed-course facilities and real-world urban and freight test sites will be used in evaluating emerging transportation technologies. By implementing a pilot-learn-scale model of deployment, the Texas team is prepared to safely conduct testing and operations in an iterative manner as the technology develops. Members of the Texas partnership are contributing their facilities, expertise and talents as a part of a larger Texas network of proving grounds and testbed sites.
Proving grounds offer controlled environments on research campuses where the complete lifecycle development of AVs can be assessed. Urban and freight testbeds offer real-world environments where a variety of scenarios may be explored. The Texas Partnership is looking at several cities and major metropolitan regions, including:
Austin Area Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and Riverside Drive corridor;
Houston Area Texas Medical Center, Houston METRO HOV lanes, and Port of Houston;
Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington Area UTA campus, Arlington streets, I-30 corridor and managed lanes;
San Antonio Area Fredericksburg Road/Medical Drive corridor, and VIA Metropolitan Transit system;
El Paso Area Tornillo/Guadalupe Port of Entry.
“With five of the nation’s 15 fastest-growing cities in Texas, and our population expected to potentially double by the year 2050, Texas must be a leader in new technology that addresses transportation challenges,” said Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) deputy executive director, Marc Williams. “This partnership puts Texas at the forefront of automated vehicle technologies that likely will shape the future of transportation around the world.”
Dr Steve Dellenback, vice president of SwRI’s Intelligent Systems Division, commented, “We fully expect to see more automated driving capabilities on Texas roads in the next few years. As these systems move out of laboratories, like the ones at Southwest Research Institute, we want to ensure that our engineers are working closely with municipalities, DOTs and universities to create the best infrastructure in terms of networks and roadways.”