The USF Center for Urban Transportation Research has started the evaluation of the fourth and final phase of a $22 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation to create and implement connected vehicle technology in downtown Tampa. The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority Connected Vehicle Pilot (THEA CV Pilot), which started in 2015, is now being tested by Honda, Hyundai and Toyota to determine how the technology interacts with their hardware.
This advancement follows the study of more than 1,000 drivers who volunteered to have their personal vehicles retrofitted with CV technology, which allows vehicles to wirelessly communicate to roadside infrastructure and other vehicles to exchange information on traffic, hazards and other factors that could affect pedestrian, vehicle and bicycle safety. Sisinnio Concas, program director for the Autonomous-Connected Mobility Evaluation at USF, analyzed the data, which was collected in real-time as the commuters went about their daily routines.
The technology connects vehicles to roadside units installed throughout downtown Tampa, alerting drivers of certain conditions, such as providing advanced warning for when traffic lights would turn red and of impending green lights, improving traffic flow. The technology was also installed at the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway Reversible Express Lanes, which change directions at different times of the day. During the 18-month pilot, the CV technology warned 14 drivers that they were entering the wrong way on the express lanes, helped prevent nine trolley crashes and issued 1,500 advisories to drivers that they were exceeding the speed limit.
“This technology holds great promise in propelling us toward connected and automated mobility and taking us closer to Vision Zero, a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries and create a future of equitable and efficient travel,” Concas said.
The THEA CV Pilot is working with the automakers, also known as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), to test the viability of CV technology in their hardware and to study how different makes and models interact with one another. Tests are being conducted at the American Center of Mobility testing facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where seven connected vehicle applications are being reviewed for implementation:
- Forward collision warning
- Emergency electronic brake light
- Intersection movement assist
- Wrong way entry
- Pedestrian collision warning
- End or ramp deceleration warning
- Red light violation warning
“The THEA CV Pilot has been successful in implementing CV technology for sending warnings in real-time and documenting the data for use by the industry for future deployments. We are working with the OEMs to use technology to make it safer to drive. Our team’s goal is to one day eradicate crashes all together, which will require everyone working together. This has been a great collaboration showing how the transportation industry can work together to solve problems,” said Bob Frey, director of planning and THEA CV project manager.
Phase 4 entails the recruitment of 600 individuals to drive CV-equipped vehicles. USF researchers hope the technology can eventually be fully integrated into transportation systems to enhance the safety, mobility and traffic reliability for drivers and pedestrians. The project is scheduled to conclude by the end of 2022.