Connected Vehicle Research

The development and deployment of a fully connected transportation system that makes the most of multi-modal, transformational applications requires a robust, underlying technological platform. The platform is a combination of well-defined technologies, interfaces, and processes that, combined, ensure safe, stable, interoperable, reliable system operations that minimize risk and maximize opportunities.

Connected vehicle research has been organized into the following focus areas:

Connected Vehicle Technology

A successful platform will be developed through a process of thorough and considered research and will meet a set of rigorous criteria:

  • The platform will allow for growth, expandability, and incorporation of newly evolving technologies.
  • In knowing the architectural configuration and definition of interfaces, creative private-sector firms will be able to develop new applications that are not yet envisioned but remain for future imagination.
  • And finally, the platform will be developed based on the complexity and range of human behaviors that will interact with and impact upon the system.

The following represent some, but not all, of the critical research efforts over the next five years that will address the underlying technological platform:

Connected Vehicle Applications

Connected vehicle safety applications are designed to increase situational awareness and reduce or eliminate crashes through vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) data transmission that supports: driver advisories, driver warnings, and vehicle and/or infrastructure controls. These technologies may potentially address up to 82 percent of crash scenarios with unimpaired drivers, preventing tens of thousands of automobile crashes every year (further research will incorporate heavy vehicle crashes including buses, motor carriers, and rail).

Connected vehicle mobility applications provide a connected, data-rich travel environment. The network captures real-time data from equipment located on-board vehicles (automobiles, trucks, and buses) and within the infrastructure. The data are transmitted wirelessly and are used by transportation managers in a wide range of dynamic, multi-modal applications to manage the transportation system for optimum performance.

Connected vehicle environmental applications both generate and capture environmentally relevant real-time transportation data and use this data to create actionable information to support and facilitate "green" transportation choices. They also assist system users and operators with "green" transportation alternatives or options, thus reducing the environmental impacts of each trip. For instance, informed travelers may decide to avoid congested routes, take alternate routes, public transit, or reschedule their trip — all of which can make their trip more fuel-efficient and eco-friendly. Data generated from connected vehicle systems can also provide operators with detailed, real-time information on vehicle location, speed, and other operating conditions. This information can be used to improve system operation. On-board equipment may also advise vehicle owners on how to optimize the vehicle's operation and maintenance for maximum fuel efficiency.

Connected Vehicle Technology Policy and Institutional Issues

The U.S. DOT's Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Joint Program Office (JPO) is actively working to engage a wide range of stakeholders to help guide the policy research program so that it is based on sound, real-world application of new technologies that give vehicles the capability to communicate with one another and with devices located on the surrounding infrastructure for the purpose of improving transportation outcomes in the areas of safety, mobility, and impact on the environment.  Research into connected vehicle technologies is multimodal.

Connected Vehicle International Research and Standards Harmonization

The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) aims to foster cooperative international research of intelligent transportation system (ITS) and to support international harmonization of ITS standards. Coordinated research can support and accelerate the deployment and adoption of cooperative vehicle (also termed connected vehicle) systems  and preclude the development and adoption of redundant standards. Cooperative systems enabling vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications have the potential to contribute to a safer, more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly transportation system.

Use of Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) Technology

Using a five-year strategic research plan, the Department is committing to the use of the DSRC technologies for active safety for both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure applications. The Department is also reaffirming its intention to explore all wireless technologies for their applicability to safety, mobility, and environmental applications.

In 2008, the ITS Program framed the definition of connectivity to include both DSRC and non-DSRC technologies as a means of providing an open connected vehicle platform. Such a framework has multiple benefits:

  • It will allow for the integration of a wider array of technologies and thus enable private industry to develop innovative technologies that may offer new or additional features.
  • It will allow the connected vehicle architecture to adapt as technologies evolve over time, ensuring that the connected vehicle network incorporates innovative approaches and applications as they become available.
  • It will ensure that benefits are not limited only to drivers of vehicle equipped with smart technologies.

The Department's commitment to DSRC highlights two critical points:

  • That safety is the highest priority for the Department and will form the central focus for the connected vehicle program.
  • That analysis illustrates that DSRC is the only available technology in the near-term that offers the latency, accuracy, and reliability needed for active safety (for further discussion.  See DSRC FAQs for more information.
  • Use of Dedicated Short Range Communications

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