In the last transport-related ruling of the Obama Administration, outgoing US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced that the USDOT has designated 10 automated vehicle (AV) proving ground pilot sites and new Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) guidance.
The 10 proving grounds have been designated to encourage testing and information sharing around AV technologies, which the agency hopes will foster innovations that can safely transform personal and commercial mobility, expand capacity and open new doors to disadvantaged people and communities. The USDOT says the designations are a logical next step in its effort to advance the safe deployment of automated technology. The proving grounds will also provide critical insights into optimal ‘big data’ use through AV testing, and will serve as a foundation for building a community of practice around AV research.
Following a solicitation for proposals in November 2016, the designees were selected from a competitive group of over 60 applicants that included academic institutions, state DOTs, cities, and private entities and partnerships. The solicitation included broad criteria for selections including a demonstration of capable safety planning, willingness and ability to share and disseminate information, and an ability to show that all applicable laws, regulations, and policies are adhered to at all times. The designated proving grounds all have different facilities that can be used to gauge safety, manage various roadways and conditions, and handle various types of vehicles. The selected proving grounds are:
City of Pittsburgh and the Thomas D Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute;
Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership;
US Army Aberdeen Test Center;
American Center for Mobility (ACM) at Willow Run;
Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and GoMentum Station;
San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG);
Iowa City Area Development Group;
University of Wisconsin-Madison;
Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners;
North Carolina Turnpike Authority.
The new FHWA V2I guidance aims to improve safety and mobility by accelerating the deployment of V2I communication systems, and complements the USDOT’s efforts to reduce crashes by advancing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology, as announced in a proposed rule in December. The guidance offers a broad range of resources that can help planners, transportation engineers, decision makers and others involved in the ITS deployment process, with valuable information about V2I technologies. It can help transportation agencies and tollway authorities understand what a decision to deploy V2I technology could mean to their region, prepare for emerging V2I/V2V technologies, and make use of federal aid funds to deploy them.
“The designated proving grounds will collectively form a Community of Practice around safe testing and deployment,” said Foxx. “This group will openly share best practices for the safe conduct of testing and operations as they are developed, enabling the participants and the general public to learn at a faster rate and accelerating the pace of safe deployment. V2I technology will make our roads safer and save lives. This guidance is an important step in deploying a connected vehicle environment.”