Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan form ‘Smart Belt Coalition’


Departments of Transportation (DOTs) in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio have formed the Smart Belt Coalition, a first-of-its-kind collaboration that will focus on connected and automated vehicle (CAV) initiatives.

The coalition, which includes transportation agencies and academic partners, brings together leaders on these technologies to support research, testing, policy, funding pursuits, and deployment, as well as share data and provide unique opportunities for private-sector testers. With similar climates, commercial truck traffic, and active work on these technologies in the participating states, the coalition will be a resource for transportation stakeholders and the private sector alike. While coalition membership may expand in the future, the current participating agencies and universities include:

• Pennsylvania – PennDOT, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), and Carnegie Mellon University;

• Michigan – Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and University of Michigan;

• Ohio – Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission, The Ohio State University and Transportation Research Center.

The coalition is developing its strategic plan that initially focuses on:

• Connected and automated applications in work zones, including uniform work-zone scenarios offering consistency for testers, as well as technologies offering better information to motorists;

• Commercial freight opportunities in testing, including truck platooning by connecting more than one vehicle to a lead vehicle, and potential coordination on interstates;

• Incident management applications providing better information to, and infrastructure for, emergency responders and other agencies.

Moving forward, the coalition will finalize a strategic plan outlining the framework for participants and opportunities for private-sector testers. The coalition is the latest example of Pennsylvania’s commitment to safe and innovative development of these technologies and complements the state’s Autonomous Vehicle Policy Task Force, which includes government, academic and private-sector members, and is chaired by PennDOT.

“I’m excited for us to continue our efforts in fostering safe and effective development of this technology,” said PennDOT secretary Leslie S Richards. “This multi-state partnership not only offers fantastic collaboration opportunities, but will also bring some consistency to testing scenarios that will help the private sector as they develop these technologies.”

PTC’s CEO, Mark Compton, commented, “This new coalition recognizes that automated and connected vehicle initiatives transcend state boundaries and spur emerging technologies. Working together, we will be able to more effectively advance these emerging technologies for all motorists.”

Professor Raj Rajkumar (above), from Carnegie Mellon University, added, “We look forward to this real-world testbed to further our research in the safe deployment of connected and automated technology and its associated policies.”

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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).