US Army tests connected vehicle technology on Michigan highway


As part of the ‘Planet M’ initiative, last week the US Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) partnered to successfully test connected vehicle applications on the I-69 freeway in St Clair and Lapeer counties.

The testing of highway communications technology for US Army vehicles included direct communications between TARDEC trucks and roadside units deployed by MDOT. The test, which took place from June 20-24, involved the installation of six roadside units (RSUs) at different locations to create a vehicle communications system.

The system evaluates various vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) applications, including speed recommendation, curve speed warning, lane closure warning, and disabled vehicle warning. The testing was the first step to eventual autonomous operations of Army line-haul convoys. Messaging that is low in latency and provides pro-active information is paramount to the success of eventual full automation for supply convoys. According to MDOT, the testing demonstrated the capability of this technology and the agency’s expertise in the infrastructure necessary to support autonomous vehicle testing in Michigan.

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff (WSP-PB) is part of the MDOT team leading the infrastructure deployments, with the multi-disciplinary consultancy leading the team responsible for the infrastructure installations, RSU software configurations, network architecture development, and backhaul communication and testing. The company also coordinated a system mock-up test with all parties involved, which was conducted in a lab environment prior to the actual live testing on I-69. During the live testing, the firm provided as-needed on-site technical support with the radio configurations and troubleshooting, leading to a highly successful test. RSUs are being decommissioned and reinstalled at permanent locations on I-69 for future real-world applications.

“We are a leader in connected and automated vehicle technology and the deployment of ITS systems,” noted Scott Shogan, connected/automated vehicle (C/AV) market leader at WSP-PB. “We have established the industry’s strongest track record in the deployment of roadside infrastructure necessary to enable advanced communications for vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity.”

The company has partnered on a range of C/AV projects with multiple public agencies, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), MDOT, the USDOT Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and State Transportation Director Kirk T Steudle attended the demonstration. Snyder commented, “This is an opportunity to show true leadership in one of the most exciting developments and evolutions of technology that we’ve seen for decades. And that’s really the change from the auto industry to intermobility that will get into autonomous and connected vehicles.”

 To see a video of the demonstration click here.

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).