About the research
Connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technologies hold the potential to produce a number of safety, mobility, and environmental benefits for the users and operators of the nation’s surface transportation system. The benefits of connected vehicle technologies are expected to be wideranging and apply not only to roadway users but also transportation agencies. These benefits include reduced crashes, improved mobility, lower emissions, a reduced need to construct roadway infrastructure (fostered by mobility improvements), among others. However, the advent of a fully-integrated CAV system is not expected to come online for at least 20 years due to turnover in the existing vehicle fleet. As a result, infrastructure will need to be maintained for human drivers as well as CAVs for some time. Additionally autonomous vehicle (AV) technology is being developed by private industry regardless of the state of current infrastructure. As such, AV technology is heavily based on 360 degree awareness in close proximity of the vehicle and not heavily integrated with the provided infrastructure. Yet, demonstrations by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and others have shown that significant benefits to safety will require that AV technology operate with connectivity between vehicles, based on the basic safety message (BSM), and communications with roadside infrastructure.
The USDOT publication and outreach in deploying Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicle 3.0 makes it very clear that the federal government’s role will focus on vehicle safety and will not employ blanket regulation, which makes the likely progression of vehicle technology driven by cost of vehicle turnover for private owners and market forces for shared vehicle owners/operators.
The need to maintain a dual system that serves regular drivers and CAVs for some time to an acceptable level of service coupled with uncertainty in the direction of CAV technology creates an additional maintenance burden for agencies who already have constrained workforces and budgets. Compounding this is that changing maintenance needs will require a different set of workforce skills than is currently available in most transportation agencies.