The USDOT’s connected vehicle pilot awards will expand awareness and opportunity

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Is there a viable market for consumer-based consumption of DSRC technology and services; one that will attract private sector investment, beyond V2V safety?

Recently, the USDOT made its first three connected vehicle (CV) pilot deployment awards to try to help answer this question. The awards went to New York City; Tampa, Florida; and the state of Wyoming. Each location is focusing on different elements of the CV environment (all using some element of DSRC), but collectively they will address issues with safety (vehicles, infrastructure and vulnerable road users), congestion and freight movement.

What is interesting about these site selections is that it further extends the geographic reach of the DSRC/CV activities in the USA from what it has been over the past several years. These awards substantially increase both the level of activity and recognition that connected vehicle opportunities are available everywhere, even in the rural state of Wyoming. What else is interesting is that none of the early adopters (Virginia, Michigan and California) were recipients of an award. Without having knowledge of the behind-closed-door discussions at the USDOT, it’s hard to say why. At the very least, they’re saying it’s not business as usual.

Over this next year, these three sites will continue to evolve their system concepts. Once the sites complete this first phase and receive the go-ahead from the USDOT, they can then proceed into their design/build/test phase. So, it will still be another two years or so before we see much in the way of actual operations. And it will be even longer until we see if there are sustainable business models for CV/DSRC.

Given there were roughly 40 or so proposal submissions, what will those sites that did not win an award do now? Michigan and Virginia have already begun moving forward with non-federal funds. Will they continue to expand?

Recently I attended the ITS California meeting. As they were one of the sites that did not receive an award, what will their next move be? Their proposal was based on three major regions (San Diego, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area) working collectively on DSRC/CV solutions. Will they continue in a collective manner or will they separate and move in different directions, if at all?

Furthermore, the story of this first round of awards is still not over. The USDOT has told some sites that if supplementary funds are available by December of this year, then additional awards may be made. So, we could possibly see up to three more sites being given awards as part of this first wave of activities. So while the CV pilot sites are building up over the next couple of years, the question remains, ‘Is there a viable market for DSRC outside of the proposed mandate for V2V safety?’ For now, the jury is still out.

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