“Connected vehicles will be the next great safety innovation.” This statement has been made by many over the years, citing the promise that connected vehicle technology will dramatically improve traffic safety and reduce congestion. Still, we wonder what has happened to it, why it is taking so long and when it will finally be here.
Connected vehicle, or CV, technology, which enables cars, trucks, pedestrians, cyclists, commercial vehicle fleets and intelligent road infrastructure to communicate directly with each other, has been in development and testing for over a decade and is deemed capable of potentially eliminating or mitigating the severity of crashes by more than 80%.
However, here we are in 2021, and the number of connected vehicles is estimated to be far less than 1% of the nationwide vehicles on our roads. The promise of CVs is perhaps only slightly eclipsed by the long-standing promise of autonomous vehicles. Oh yeah, where is that self-driving Jetson’s car anyway?
Shifting tides in connected vehicle preparedness
Fortunately, much has happened in the past year to turn the promise of connected vehicles into reality. For example, one of the most significant impediments to the adoption and advancement of connected vehicle technology by transportation agencies has been the uncertainty around dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) and cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technologies – the two competing communications technologies for connected vehicle data exchange. Consider this the transportation industry’s VHS versus Betamax battle.
According to a USDOT study, 70% of agencies cited uncertainty about the communication technology as a barrier to moving ahead on their connected vehicle plans. However, on November 18, 2020, the FCC adopted new rules for radio communications bandwidth that now effectively identifies C-V2X as the go-forward technology and almost guarantees the phase–out of DSRC. While controversial, this decision may just be what pushes everything along.
Additionally, many proposed use cases are now becoming a reality. For example, connected technology can become a do-it-all solution not just for safety applications but also emergency vehicle pre-emption (EVP), transit signal priority (TSP) and freight signal priority (FSP), as well snow plow vehicle safety and fleet tracking.
Traffic agencies are deploying these systems now knowing that they will be ready and positioned to deploy more safety and mobility applications as the number of connected vehicles on roads increases.
Iteris’ role in connected and automated vehicles
Iteris has played a significant role in the evolution of connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies since their advent. We started in 1994 in developing and maintaining the National ITS Architecture and comprehensive list of use cases for the Federal Highway Administration. We also published the Connected Vehicle Reference Implementation Architecture (CVRIA), which has since been integrated with the National ITS Architecture and is now referred to as the Architecture Reference for Cooperative and Intelligent Transportation or “ARC-IT.”
Today, we enable the safe deployment and operation of CAVs across the country by providing consulting services to federal, state and local agencies that include business and strategic planning, pilot studies and conceptual designs, operations and maintenance of infrastructure and communications with stakeholders.
In terms of roadway infrastructure, we have spearheaded and supported a multitude of technology demonstrations and test pilots, from the streets of Detroit to the roadways of central Florida. We deliver production quantities of an advanced set of DSRC/C-V2X roadside units (RSUs) and onboard units (OBUs) to cities, municipalities and states throughout North America. These DSRC/C-V2X RSUs are often accompanied by Iteris’ BlueTOAD Spectra CV units for industry-leading Bluetooth travel-time and origin-destination information.
On-street demo of CV safety application using Iteris’ PedTrax video detection capabilities.
Connected vehicles are already on our roadways and increasing in number. Agencies should begin preparing now by incorporating CAV into any road improvement projects or corridor optimization strategies to be CAV ready within the next five to 10 years.
The market is ramping up to attain the levels of safety improvements that we have all been eagerly awaiting. Fewer crashes and the potential to save lives are driving Iteris to continue to create, develop and advance this life-saving technology.
From planning to deployment to operations, Iteris has the expertise, technologies and partnerships to help transportation agencies and communities prepare for connected and automated vehicles, and ultimately help to make our roadways safer and more efficient for all.
Over the next several weeks, Iteris will publish a series of articles focused on various aspects of CV/CAV, including planning and preparation, evaluating technologies to support various applications and examples of real-world deployments.
About the Author:
Todd Kreter is senior vice president and general manager, Advanced Sensor Technologies at Iteris
Connect with Todd on LinkedIn.