Over the next couple of years, a consortium of Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia and Morgan State University will conduct 19 research studies of “connected vehicles” in real world traffic conditions. The work is almost ready to begin in Northern Virginia.
Writes Jenifer Joy Madden with Greater Greater Washington:
Researchers have attached tracking equipment to light poles and other roadside infrastructure in and around Merrifield, including stretches of I-66, Lee Highway and Route 50. The roadside equipment will communicate with devices about the size of an E-ZPass installed in 12 “connected vehicles,” including a bus, semi-truck, cars, and motorcycles.
The devices collect data such as acceleration, braking and curve handling. Researchers hope that the new system will dramatically reduce highway crashes, increase fuel efficiency, and improve air quality. …
The research will focus on ways to improve both safety and mobility. “If we can detect initial braking, we can slow vehicles down and message the driver, saying something like ‘Slow traffic ahead. Reduce speed to 45 mph’ or ‘Left lane closed ahead; merge right,’” said VDOT Spokesperson Cathy McGhee.
The Connected Vehicles (CVs) are undergoing testing on the Virginia test track in Blacksburg. CVs, precursors to totally autonomous “driverless” cars, are expected to reduce crash rates by 50%.
I am encouraged to see that the Virginia Department of Transportation is involved. Bringing VDOT into testing process will reduce bureaucratic resistance to deploying these new technologies (assuming they prove as effective as hoped), and accelerate their integration into Northern Virginia’s already-advanced traffic operations centers. Now, if we can just get Virginia’s lawmakers to start creating a legal framework for CVs and, in a few years, driverless cars, the Old Dominion might actually play a leadership role in this automotive revolution.