U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced last month that nearly $60 million in federal grant funding was given to eight projects in seven states to test the safe integration of automated driving systems (ADS) on the nation’s roadways (see full listing below). According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT), these grants aim to “gather significant safety data to inform rulemaking and foster collaboration among state and local government and private partners.”
Secretary Chao made the announcement at the Federal Highway Administration Research Showcase, an event promoting the importance of research and innovation in transportation. The event featured exhibits and demonstrations of the ongoing research, emerging technologies, and capabilities of the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC).
The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) Office of Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T) is located at the TFHRC, a federally owned and operated national research facility in McLean, Va. The center houses more than 17 laboratories and support facilities. It also conducts applied and exploratory research in vehicle-highway interaction, nanotechnology, and a host of other types of transportation research in safety, pavements, highway structures and bridges, human-centered systems, operations, intelligent transportation systems, and materials.
Shown is Texas A&M’s perception system, computing unit, control panel, and human-machine interface. This project will develop and test ADS for rural roads without high-definition maps.
Secretary Chao noted that the DoT’s top priority is safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that 36,750 people were killed in the U.S. in traffic crashes in 2018. The DoT’s most recent automated vehicle guidance—"Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0.” (AV 3.0)—addresses safety and innovation by focusing on three main areas. It provides guidance for automated-vehicle development across all modes, and outlines DoT’s approach to managing safety risks along the path to AV technology integration.
Automation offers the potential to improve safety for vehicle operators, occupants, and other travelers sharing the road. To achieve this potential, DoT solicited applications through the Notice of Funding Opportunity for ADS Demonstration Grants, highlighting key goals for safety, data for safety analysis and rulemaking, and collaboration.
Grant awards are contingent on compliance with all relevant federal regulations. For more information on the applications received, visit https://www.transportation.gov/av/grants.
The following applicants were selected to receive grants: