Vehicle crashes account for more than 32,000 deaths each year and are the leading cause of death of Americans between the ages of 4 and 35. Some of the most promising technologies to help avoid crashes involve wireless communications between vehicles. Connected vehicles that communicate with each other as well as with traffic lights, work zones and other infrastructure have the potential to address more than 80 percent of unimpaired driver crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, more research is being done to ensure this technology is safe and reliable. One of the most significant of these connected vehicle research programs is the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot.
Beginning in August, 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will test wireless connected vehicle warning devices with ordinary drivers in normal roadway situations. The Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot program includes driver clinics where motorists will be monitored in a controlled environment, and a model deployment during which drivers will test the safety technology with volunteer drivers in one geographic region without any restrictions.
The Safety Pilot program will help determine how ordinary motorists respond to new safety warnings in their vehicles and how accepting they are of this technology. The project will test the effectiveness of the technology in different driving environments in the U.S.
Since safety is the U.S. DOT’s first priority, it is important that the wirelesses devices involved are safe, do not distract motorists, or cause crashes. The drivers will have had little or no experience with these kinds of vehicle warnings, but they will be given some advance training about the devices before they begin the tests. Besides communicating with other vehicles, the vehicles in the tests will communicate wirelessly with traffic signals and roadside equipment.
The two components of the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot include:
Safety Pilot Driver Clinics: During these tests, which will take place in six locations in the U.S, regular drivers will test cars with built-in wireless safety warning devices in a controlled environment. The goal will be to see how motorists handle various alert messages such as in-car collision warnings; do not pass signals and warnings that a car ahead has stopped suddenly.
Safety Pilot Model Deployment: This trial will include 2000-3000 vehicles fitted with devices that will communicate with other vehicles and the surrounding infrastructure while operating on everyday streets in a highly concentrated area where the cars will regularly interact with each other. Motorists will be able to tell when another vehicle fitted with a wireless safety device has moved into their immediate driving area, and they will get warnings if either car is in danger of crashing.
Following are answers to common questions about the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot.
Why is the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot program important?
The Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot program is important to demonstrate real world connected vehicle safety capabilities and provide robust technical data to support benefits assessment required for an agency decision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2013. NHTSA will evaluate the research and decide on the future of this technology and the potential government role in its deployment.
What is the role of U.S. DOT in the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Program?
Several agencies within U.S. DOT are working on a multimodal research initiative that aims to enable safe, interoperable networked wireless communications among vehicles, (cars, buses, trucks etc.), the infrastructure, and passengers’ personal communications devices. The U.S.DOT’s research is supporting the development and testing of connected vehicle technologies and applications to determine their potential benefits and costs.
If successfully deployed, wireless connectivity will assist drivers and reduce the number and severity of injuries resulting from a multitude of motor vehicle crash types such as rear-end, lane change, opposite direction, and crossing path crashes. The U.S. DOT wants to accelerate the introduction and commercialization of crash avoidance and warning systems based on connected vehicle technology using Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) technology. The Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot is a key part of the U.S. DOT’s research strategy because it is crucial to understanding how ordinary drivers will respond to safety warnings in connected vehicles.
What kinds of devices will be used in the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot program?
The devices include preinstalled and aftermarket technology that will help drivers avoid crashes with other vehicles, see in blind spots, anticipate upcoming traffic congestion, make safer lane changes, and keep safe distances from other cars.
What kind of human factors data will you be trying to obtain from the Safety Pilot tests?
During the driver clinics, the U.S. DOT will collect qualitative data on the user acceptance of driver assistance technologies. This will be the first opportunity for drivers across the U.S. to experience these safety technologies. Driver clinics will involve testing in controlled test track environments. The model deployment program will try to determine if drivers have the appropriate response to the crash warning systems, whether they find them useful, and if the systems help them drive safer.
How will trucks be involved in Safety Pilot?
There are expected to be two trucks integrated with wireless crash warning devices that will also be part of the Safety Pilot Driver clinics. The Driver Clinics will obtain a cross section of commercial vehicle drivers, recruited from local fleets and other means. The test drivers will operate the vehicles in a safe, highly controlled, closed course environment with a focus on collecting subjective driver acceptance data on integrated safety systems and driver vehicle interfaces. In addition, at least one Truck Driver Clinic will be held in conjunction with a trucking industry event or a similar fleet/driver focused show.
Where and when are the driver clinics taking place?
The Safety Pilot Driver Clinics will take place in the following locations
- August 8-11at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI
- September 19-22 at Brainerd International Speedway, Brainerd, Minnesota
- October 22-25 at the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Orlando, FL (During the 18th Annual World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems)
- November 6-9 at Smart Road (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute)I in Blacksburg, VA
- December 5-7 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, TX
- January 16-19 at the Alameda Naval Air Station in Alameda, CA
In addition, there will be a public demonstration of the connected vehicles in Washington, DC on November 10, 2011
Who will be operating the Safety Pilot Driver Acceptance Clinics?
The U.S. DOT has contracted with the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP), a cooperative research organization made up of eight of the leading car manufacturers in the U.S., including: Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes, Nissan, and Volkswagen. CAMP is involved in all project management, planning, site selection, testing, recruitment of potential drivers, data collection, and overall management of the Driver Acceptable Clinics.
Who will be selected to participate in the Safety Pilot Driver Acceptance Clinics?
CAMP will recruit, interview, and prepare volunteers for participation in the driver clinics. CAMP will also select a test population that is split evenly by gender and three age groups: under 30 years of age, between 40 and 50 years of age, and over 60 years of age. All participants must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Have a current, valid driver’s license.
- Be in good overall health.
How many people will participate in the Safety Pilot Driver Acceptance Clinics and how will they be selected?
At least 100 volunteer drivers will be selected to participate in each of the six driver clinics. CAMP will carefully screen drivers and ensure they fill out consent forms and background questionnaires. CAMP will also prepare each volunteer by explaining the functions of the connected vehicle system and the test scenarios to be undertaken. Following completion of each driving clinic volunteers will complete a survey to obtain subjective driver acceptance data.
How many vehicles will be used in the Safety Pilot Driver Acceptance Clinics?
There will be 24 cars specially built for the driver clinics. Each will have a specially designed wireless safety-warning device built in. In addition, there will be separate driver clinics that will include three to four trucks.
Where will the data be evaluated from the Safety Pilot Driver Acceptance Clinics?
The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center of the U.S. DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration will conduct an independent evaluation of the Driver Acceptance Clinics.
To learn more about this research, contact:
Team Lead, Research
ITS Joint Program Office
Research and Innovative Technology Administration