Safety Pilot Program Overview
- Research Objectives
- Safety Pilot FAQ's
- Safety Pilot Driver Clinics
- Driver Clinic FAQ's
- Safety Pilot Model Deployment
- Model Deployment FAQs
Vehicle crashes account for more than 32,000 deaths each year and are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 4 and 35 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The application of dedicated, short-range wireless communications to the transportation environment in combination with advanced safety applications offers some of the most promising, near-term opportunities for crash reductions. This combination of innovative technologies results in creating communications among vehicles and between vehicles and the infrastructure (which may include traffic signals, work zone equipment, or pavement sensors, among other infrastructure elements). Research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that deployment of connected vehicle systems have the potential to address unimpaired driver crashes. However, more research is needed to understand the true effectiveness of this technology. To do so, the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program has defined a significant test and evaluation effort—the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot.
The Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Program is a scientific research initiative that features a real-world implementation of connected vehicle safety technologies, applications, and systems using everyday drivers. The effort will test performance, evaluate human factors and usability, observe policies and processes, and collect empirical data to present a more accurate, detailed understanding of the potential safety benefits of these technologies. This empirical data will be critical to supporting the 2013 NHTSA agency decision on vehicle communications for safety.
Safety Pilot is a major research initiative that involves several modes within the U.S. DOT, several vehicle manufacturers, public agencies, and academia.
The vision for the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Program is to provide the world with a model deployment that demonstrates the transformative nature and benefits of connected vehicle technologies for safety and that can be further extended to support non-safety needs relating to mobility and environmental impacts. In the past, the U.S. DOT has focused on helping people survive crashes. Connected vehicle safety will change the paradigm by helping people avoid crashes.
The goals of the Safety Pilot are three-fold:
- To test the effectiveness of wireless connected vehicle technology in real-world, multimodal driving conditions
- To collect data about how ordinary drivers adapt to the use of connected vehicle technology
- To identify the potential safety benefits of connected vehicle technology.
The Safety Pilot program includes two critical test efforts—the Safety Pilot Driver Clinics and the Safety Pilot Model Deployment.
Safety Pilot Driver Clinics. In August 2011, the Safety Pilot Driver Clinics began to test the new V2V safety applications with ordinary drivers in controlled roadway situations. The evaluations explore driver reactions to safety applications using a variety of light-duty vehicles (cars) and under a variety of test conditions. Everyday motorists participate in the driver clinics in controlled environments such as test tracks and parking facilities. These clinics are being conducted at six sites geographically dispersed throughout the United States. Separate driver clinics will be conducted for trucks.
The driver clinics are an important first step in identifying how drivers respond to new innovative wireless devices for safety. One measure will be to determine whether the new applications create any unnecessary distractions for motorists, which may result in additional crashes. To assess drivers’ response to and benefits from in-vehicle alerts and warnings, approximately 100 everyday drivers are testing the technologies at each driver clinic.The driver clinics began in August 2011 and will continue through early 2012.
Safety Pilot Model Deployment. To continue the data collection under real-world conditions, a test site with multimodal traffic will be selected to host approximately 3,000 vehicles equipped with V2V devices. The goal is to create a highly concentrated connected vehicle communications environment with vehicles “talking to each other.” The devices to be tested include embedded, aftermarket, and a “simple” communications beacon (see the FAQs below for details on the various devices). All of these devices emit a basic safety message 10 times per second, which forms the basic data stream that other in-vehicle devices use to determine when a potential conflict exists. When this data is further combined with the vehicle’s own data, it creates a highly accurate data set that is the foundation for cooperative, crash avoidance safety applications. Using a mix of cars, trucks, and transit vehicles, the Safety Pilot Model Deployment will create test data sets for determining the technologies’ effectiveness at reducing crashes. These capabilities will also be extended to a limited set of V2I applications. Supported by a diverse team of industry, public agencies, and academia, the model deployment will run from the fall of 2012 to the fall of 2013.
Why is the 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 the benefits assessment required for NHTSA’s agency decision in 2013. NHTSA will evaluate the data and decide on the future of this technology.
What kinds of devices will be used in the Safety Pilot Program?
- Embedded Devices: Installed during the manufacturing process, these devices integrate directly with the vehicle’s computers, thus providing the ability to draw on a wide range of data. In addition to emitting and receiving the basic safety message, vehicles with embedded devices can further communicate data on speed, acceleration and deceleration, yaw rate, turning, wiper activity, and braking, among others. Cooperative, crash avoidance safety applications rely on this enhanced data stream to provide highly accurate, real-time alerts, advisories, and warnings to the driver. In the case of buses, trucks, and motor coaches, these devices are integrated after production or are retrofitted.
- Aftermarket Devices: These devices do not connect to the vehicle’s computers; they draw data only from the environment (e.g., GPS, safety messages from other vehicles) to support applications. Aftermarket devices can emit the basic safety message to warn equipped vehicles of the vehicles presence as well as warn drivers of potential conflicts. This option is being examined as a means of increasing user adoption, and hence benefits, especially in the existing fleet of over 250 million vehicles.
- Vehicle Communications Devices: These devices focus only on emitting the basic safety message.
What kind of human factors data will result from the Safety Pilot tests?
The Safety Pilot Driver Clinic tests will gather qualitative human factors data on driver acceptance of safety technologies. The tests will be the first opportunity for drivers across the United States to experience these safety technologies. Because driver preferences vary, the driver clinics will be geographically dispersed across the United States. The model deployment will also collect driver acceptance data. But while the driver clinics will assess driver acceptance through drivers’ exposure to various safety application via a controlled demonstration, the model deployment will evaluate driver acceptance by exposing everyday drivers to the safety application under natural driving and traffic conditions over multiple months.
How will trucks be involved in the Safety Pilot?
There will be three trucks integrated with wireless crash warning devices that will be part of separate truck driver clinics. These driver clinics will obtain a cross-section of commercial vehicle drivers, recruited from local fleets and other means. The 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.
How will transit vehicles be involved in the Safety Pilot?
Because transit drivers are already highly trained on advanced equipment (for which much data on human factors has already been collected), transit use of V2V and V2I safety technologies will be modeled and simulated to ensure exploration of the dynamics of a wide variety of potential incidents that include elements such as buses, light rail, pedestrians, transit signal priority, interaction with other vehicle and traffic elements, and transit operations.
The U.S. DOT will operate six light vehicle Safety Pilot Driver Clinics from August 2011 to January 2012.
Dates and Locations
The dates and locations for the six Safety Pilot Driver Clinics include:
- August 8-11, 2011: At the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI
- September 27-29, 2011:At the Brainerd International Speedway, in Brainerd, MN
- October 22-25, 2011: At the Walt Disneyworld SPEEDWAY in Orlando, FL (during the 18th Annual World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems, there will also be opportunities for registrants to participate in a similar technology experience)
- November 7-10, 2011: At the Smart Road Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in Blacksburg, VA
- December 6-9, 2011: At the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, TX
- January 18-21, 2012: At the Alameda Naval Air Station in Alameda, CA.
The truck driver clinics will have separate dates and locations.
Who will operate the Driver Clinics?
A car consortium led by the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP) is responsible for all aspects of the driver clinics, ranging from project management, testing, recruitment of potential drivers, and overall management of the driver clinics.
Who will be selected to participate in the driver clinics?
CAMP will select a population of drivers split evenly by gender and by three age groups: younger (under 30 years of age), middle age (between 40 and 50 years of age), and older (over 60 years of age).
How will drivers be selected to participate in the driver clinics?
In each of the six driver clinic markets, a market research recruiting firm that specializes in finding, screening, and inviting participants for all types of studies will recruit participants. The firms adhere to strict confidentiality standards.
To participate in the driver clinics, contact Helen Thomas, of Automotive Events, at Helen@hitcq.com.
How many drivers are expected to participate?
At least 100 volunteer drivers will be selected to participate in each of the six driver clinics.
What can participants expect?
Each research participant will receive an explanation of the functions of the connected vehicle system and the test scenarios to be undertaken. Participants will then experience the different applications under a variety of scenarios. Following completion of each driver clinic, research participants will complete a survey designed to gather subjective driver acceptance data. At least one focus group meeting will follow each driver clinic.
Who will evaluate the data?
The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, part of the U.S. DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), will conduct an independent evaluation of the Safety Pilot Driver Clinic data to support the 2013 NHTSA agency decision.
The U.S. DOT and its research partners will conduct a Safety Pilot Model Deployment from the fall of 2012 to the fall of 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Vehicle and site preparations began in August 2011.
The model deployment will include approximately 3,000 cars, trucks, and transit vehicles, as well as roadside infrastructure. Vehicles will include fully integrated V2V systems and aftermarket devices.
Who will operate the model deployment?
The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) will conduct the Safety Pilot Model Deployment in Ann Arbor, MI, using innovative technology equipment in everyday vehicles in a real-world environment.
Who will be selected to participate in the model deployment?
UMTRI will recruit and prepare volunteers for participating in the model deployment. The drivers will be split evenly by gender and by three age groups: younger (under 30 years of age), middle age (between 40 and 50 years of age), and older (over 60 years of age).
How many people are expected to participate and how many vehicles and safety devices will be used?
Approximately 3,000 vehicles will participate. Sixty-four vehicles will have embedded devices; approximately 300 vehicles will have aftermarket safety devices; and the remaining vehicles will have simple transmission-only vehicle awareness devices.
What were the results of the Safety Pilot Driver Clinics?
The preliminary results of the Safety Pilot Driver Clinics are in. Findings show that drivers across age groups and gender desire vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology. Conducted from August 2011 to January 2012, each driver clinic had over 100 drivers testing in-vehicle wireless technology.
The V2V safety applications tested included emergency brake-light warning, forward-collision warning, intersection movement assist, blind-spot and lane-change warning, do-not-pass warning, and left-turn assist. Over 90 percent of the respondents indicated that they would like to have the V2V safety features in their vehicles, with the intersection-movement-assist application rated the highest in desirability (93.9 percent), usefulness (95.5 percent), and intuitiveness (92.8 percent). However, all of the safety features received a positive response in all three areas.
In terms of the unintended consequences of the safety features, 74.5 percent of the drivers felt that the safety features would not be any more distracting to their driving than using the car radio. Most participants were either neutral or disagreed that the safety features would cause drivers to pay less attention to their driving environment.
The majority of the participants felt that the market would need to be at least 70-percent saturated with equipped vehicles to notice any benefits, and the majority of respondents (58 percent) would be willing to pay up to $250 for the V2V technology.
Overall, respondents felt the benefits of connected vehicle technology (saving lives and preventing accidents) far outweigh the potential drawbacks (dependency, complacency, or over-reliance).
Who is providing the safety devices and roadside equipment?
The U.S. DOT has been working with a number of vendors to develop devices that have the potential to meet our specifications and may be listed on the Safety Pilot Qualified Products List (QPL), and can potentially support the model deployment. The U.S. DOT has partners with the following firms to develop product in the areas of roadside equipment, basic communications devices, and aftermarket safety devices:
- Arada Systems
- Kapsch TrafficCom, Inc.
- Industrial Technology Research Institute
- Cohda Wireless and Cisco Systems Inc.
- Savari Networks
Vehicle Awareness Devices
- AutoTalks Ltd
- Cohda Wireless
- Denso International America, Inc.
- DGE Inc.
- Industrial Technology Research Institute
- Savari Networks
- Arada Systems
Aftermarket Safety Devices
- Cohda Wireless (with Delphi as a subcontractor)
- Cohda Wireless (with Visteon as a subcontractor)
- Denso International of America, Inc.
- Kapsch TrafficCom, Inc.
Currently, more products are under development; if tests demonstrate that the products meet the U.S. DOT’s acceptance criteria, vendors will be placed on a QPL. Vendors listed on the QPL will be considered for the future solicitation of a significantly larger amount of these equipment products for the model deployment.
- The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) Safety Pilot
- NHTSA Connected Vehicle website
- Safety Pilot Fact Sheet (NHTSA) [PDF 768KB]
- Model Deployment Technical Fact Sheet [PDF 473KB]
- Frequency of Target Crashes for Connected Vehicle Safety System
- Fact Sheet: How Connected Vehicles Work [PDF 761KB]
- News Release on Safety Pilot Driver Clinics
- News Release about Safety Pilot Model Deployment
- Video: Connected Vehicle Safety
- Safety Pilot Fact Sheet [PDF 1.12MB]
To learn more about this research, contact:
Program Manager, Communications & Outreach
U.S. Department of Transportation
HOIT-1 E33 - 409
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
(202) 366 3700
(202) 493 2027 (fax)