Connected Vehicle Technology
International Research

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.

EU, US, Japan ITS Cooperation logo

Harmonization of International Standards and Architecture around the Vehicle Platform

As a global automotive industry, it is critical to reduce barriers to standardization and achieve a broad agreement on harmonization that can benefit both the public and the motor vehicle industries. The objective of the Standards Harmonization research program is to work with the international standards community to harmonize standards and architecture to increase vehicle connectivity. Harmonization facilitates interoperability between products and systems, which can benefit transportation management agencies, vehicle manufacturers, equipment vendors, and others. By overcoming institutional and financial barriers to technology harmonization, stakeholders could realize lower life-cycle costs for the acquisition and maintenance of systems. Efforts under this research program include collaboration with standards development organizations, original equipment manufacturers, and other stakeholders to seek agreement and provide appropriate incentives.

The international standards harmonization program uses a multi-track approach to address the range of activities required for research:

  • Track 1: Establish a U.S. DOT working group, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ITS Joint Program Office (JPO), and other appropriate government and private sector representatives.
  • Track 2: Develop a program of work identifying specific harmonization efforts that require negotiation with relevant global authorities.
  • Track 3: Engage global authorities to seek agreement on the selection of standards requiring harmonization and provide appropriate Federal Government support (possibly funding) for these efforts.
  • Track 4: Provide appropriate Federal Government support to ensure maintenance of standards.
  • Track 5: Monitor ongoing and future global activities to identify harmonization/standardization opportunities.

Vehicle connectivity through harmonization of standards and architecture will reduce costs to industry and consumers in that hardware and/or software development costs will be spread over a larger user base, resulting in reduced unit costs. Differences between vehicles manufactured for different markets will also be minimized, allowing private-sector markets to have a greater set of global opportunities.

Recognizing the importance of harmonized international ITS standards and cooperative ITS research, RITA is collaborating with the European Commission (EU) Directorate General for Information Society and Media (DG INFSO) and the Road Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) of Japan.

U.S. and EU Collaboration

In January 2009, RITA and the EU DG INFSO signed an Implementing Arrangement to develop coordinated research programs, specifically focusing on cooperative vehicle systems. The purpose of this collaboration is to increase the value of each region’s research by creating a joint framework for field operational tests and evaluation tools, collaborating on cooperative vehicle safety applications research projects, and working to internationally harmonize cooperative vehicle standards.

The regions’ commitment was further affirmed in an EU-U.S. Joint Declaration of Intent on Research Cooperation in Cooperative Systems, signed in November 2009. The goals of the Joint Declaration are to:

  • Support, wherever possible, global open standards to ensure interoperability of cooperative systems worldwide and to preclude the development and adoption of redundant standards
  • Identify research areas that would benefit from a harmonized approach and that could be addressed by coordinated or joint research
  • Avoid duplication of research efforts.

A Joint ITS Technical Task Force as well as Working Groups, co-led and staffed by representatives of the U.S. DOT and the EU, are conducting the work for this collaboration. The Working Groups include:

  • Safety Applications Working Group – Focuses on supporting the development of cooperative safety applications in Europe and the United States by defining a common agreement among car manufacturers on specific standards/parameters to harmonize between these regions
  • Sustainability Applications Working Group – Focuses on identifying, researching, quantifying, and evaluating the environmental benefits of an ITS application or scenario that would improve the operation and performance of an environmentally optimized transportation network
  • Standards Harmonization Working Group – Focuses on encouraging and fostering the development and adoption of globally harmonized open standards for ITS cooperative systems
  • Assessment Tools Working Group – Focuses on establishing a fundamental foundation to facilitate a common level of analysis capabilities, comparison of field operational tests, and exchange of data and information regarding test and evaluation of cooperative systems
  • Driver Distraction and Human-Machine Interaction Working Group – Focuses on identifying opportunities for research collaboration, aligning research, and identifying differences in the area of driver distraction and human-machine interaction
  • European Technical Roadmap Working Group – Focuses on producing a document to review the current state of the development of cooperative systems in Europe and the plans for future development and deployment
  • Glossary Working Group – Focuses on establishing and publishing the common working definitions for the key terms and concepts to facilitate mutual understanding in ongoing discussions within the EU-U.S. Task Force.

Progress and Findings in the Harmonization of EU-U.S. Security and Communications Standards in the field of Connected Vehicles

Joint standardization of connected vehicle systems (V2V and V2I) is a core objective of the EU-U.S. cooperation on ITS. In 2012, two Harmonization Task Groups (HTGs) worked in parallel on analyses of security standards (HTG1) and communications standards (HTG3). The HTG1 analysis indicated that the initial set of security standards, developed by IEEE, was reasonably well harmonized. However, gaps still exist and must be addressed before large-scale deployment occurs. The HTG3 analysis involves the current differences between the EU and U.S. approach to standardizing communications at 5.9GHz for V2V and V2I safety-of-life and property communications. The HTG3 identified differences that presented interoperability challenges and offered suggestions for harmonizing these differences to achieve a single global standard. Both Harmonization Task Groups’ reports, plus an introductory report and a report documenting the lessons learned in conducting the harmonization activity, can be downloaded here:

An outcome of the HTG1 and HTG3 work was recognition of the need to harmonize security policies and standards. To meet this need, a third HTG (HTG6) was established to explore and find consensus on management policies and security approaches for cooperative ITS. This could be assessed across international, regional, and local levels to determine optimal candidate guidelines for policy areas. HTG6’s intent is to identify where harmonization is desirable by exploring the advantages and limitations of global versus local security policy alternatives, including economic benefits. The task group is identifying the largest set of common approaches and the benefits for commonality and identifying those policies and approaches that need to differ regionally and the reasons for divergence.

HTG6 is addressing areas such as:

  • Security Certificate Operations and Certificate Policies
  • Unit and Organizational Certification Policies
  • Misbehavior Policies
  • Organizational and Operational Expansion/Upgrade Policies
  • Privacy Policies
  • Infrastructure Policies.

The finalized scope statement provides more details about the task group’s process, intended outcomes, and areas of focus:

U.S. - Japan Technical Cooperation and Information Exchange

USDOT has a long history of research exchange and collaboration with Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, formalized in a 1993 Implementing Arrangement between the two agencies, which advances the existing technical cooperation and information exchange on ITS between the two nations.

The U.S.-Japan ITS Task Force formed in 2009 to facilitate working-level interaction on topics of mutual interest. The four high-priority areas of collaboration are:

  • Probe Data,
  • Evaluation Tools and Methods,
  • International Standards Harmonization, and
  • Automation in Road Transport (trilateral with the European Union).

US-Japan staff exchanges have been invaluable in building relationships and facilitating technical exchange, building a strong foundation for ongoing collaboration and research. MLIT ITS Research Fellows have been resident at USDOT since 1996.

This collaboration with Japan is part of RITA’s continuing effort to develop international ITS research cooperatively and to support international harmonization of ITS standards.


  • Cooperation between the EU and U.S. industry, governments, and standards communities has resulted in a substantially harmonized core safety message set, showcased at the 2012 ITS World Congress Vienna.
  • Results of the U.S.-Japan collaborative research on probe data so far can be found in the US-Japan Collaborative Research on Probe Data: Assessment Report, to be published in November 2013.
  • In January 2013, the ITS JPO, DG-CONNECT and the MLIT Road Bureau reached consensus on exchange of research and development related to automated vehicles and related infrastructure, and created a new trilateral working group: Automation in Road Transportation. The group met following the summer 2013 TRB Automation Workshop and has made substantial progress towards development of an agenda that addresses shared research issues.
  • The EU/US Sustainability Working Group has identified a series of white papers, to be completed in 2014, which will lay out the commonalities of our research programs, along with areas of divergence where they might occur; learn from each other about what works and also lessons learned; and demonstrate areas where the two regions could leverage each other’s work.
  • The EU/US Driver Distraction and Human-Machine Interaction Working Group completed its Inattention Taxonomy report.



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