US freight corridors best suited for highly automated truck deployment identified

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With highly automated vehicles (HAVs) poised to radically affect the future of the long-haul freight transport sector, one of the leading providers of connected car services and transportation analytics, Inrix, has identified corridors in the USA that are positioned to most immediately benefit from early autonomous trucking deployment.

The Inrix Automated Freight Corridor Assessment is based on the premise that the commercial benefits of current HAV technology are best suited for trips of longer duration and those without challenging traffic conditions, such as speed changes, congestion and possible incidents.

To identify these corridors, Inrix Research first analyzed and ranked US corridors that measure more than 100 miles (160km) in length with high freight volume and low congestion characteristics. The country has a number of routes that are solid candidates for HAV deployment due to the prevalence of high volume, low congestion corridors. However, this broad distribution will likely lead to a more diffuse pattern of HAV adoption as compared to countries where a select few routes stand out above all others.

Despite its comparatively short length, I-95 (Jacksonville to Miami) ranked the best commercial corridor as a result of its very high freight volumes and low congestion levels. I-5, from the Canadian border to Northern California, scored second for initial autonomous truck deployment due to its low congestion rates, high freight volumes and overall length of the road.

In consideration of the public focus on prioritizing the safety benefits of HAVs, Inrix then identified corridors with high incidence rates to show where the technology could have the most impact. The best fit US corridors were identified by finding segments with the highest number of incidents, such as accidents, slowdowns and construction. By augmenting drivers’ skills with HAV technology, the driving risks on these routes could be greatly mitigated.

Of the corridors analyzed, I-75 from Chattanooga to Atlanta ranked highest in terms of driver risk. The road’s high freight volume, coupled with a high incident rate, differentiated it from other corridors that exhibited higher incidents per mile or overall volumes. I-45 between Houston and Dallas was second in the safety rankings due to its exceptionally high incident rate, at least 10% higher than any other corridor studied.

Based on Inrix research and analysis of routes that deliver both commercial gains and increased road safety, the most ideal US corridor for initial deployment, when normalizing freight volume, route length, congestion and incident rates, is I-5 from the Canadian border to Northern California. I-95, from Jacksonville to Miami, scored exceptionally well in terms of congestion, but its low incident prevented it from ranking first.

“Big data is an essential tool that should be used as the public and private sectors explore and deploy HAVs,” said Avery Ash, head of autonomous mobility at Inrix. “Mobility data and analytics are more powerful when multiple layers, such as congestion, volume and incidents, are added into the equation. Using data-driven insights will allow commercial truck operators and road authorities to proactively leverage HAVs to solve key mobility and business challenges.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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