Intelligent Transportation

What if we could could make a safer world and eliminate traffic fatalities? Or increase traffic efficiency thereby optimizing resources making our world Greener?

These goals are the vision of the DoT’s Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) initiative. The two priorities of ITS are to realize Connected Vehicle (CV) Implementation and Advance Automation. My blog will explore the basics of CV technology which is a critical stepping stone to advancing transportation automation capabilities of the future.

So what is CV tech? Connected Vehicle tech aims to enable safe and interoperable networked wireless communications among vehicles, infrastructure and people utilizing Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructor (V2I) applications. These applications have numerous functions, however the overall initiative is to alert the driver of unsafe conditions and prevent collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians.

NYC is one of three locations where the DoT is establishing an extensive pilot program to conduct research and development. The key concept of the NYC CV pilot program is to equip large fleet vehicles with CV tech to advance towards NYC’s Vision Zero goal – to eliminate injuries and fatalities due to traffic crashes. The basic system architecture is comprised of hundreds of road side units (RSU) installed in high density traffic areas communicating with thousands of aftermarket safety devices (ASD’s) installed in fleet vehicles such as taxis, buses, UPS and sanitation vehicles through Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) networks.

This image displays the planned permanent installation of RSU infrastructure in a high density traffic area in Brooklyn/Manhatten and the corresponding streets and roads where the technology will apply.

Now lets discuss the basic functionality of the pilot CV tech. What specific application (V2V or V2I) functions will assist drivers and pedestrians? Here’s a quick and basic breakdown the real-time alerts and warnings which will be immediately displayed (visually and/or aurally) to drivers to reduce collision potential:

The Emergency Break Light (EEBL) and Forward Crash Warnings (FCW) target precrash scenarios on rear-end crashes such as alerting driver that Lead Vehicle is decelerating > .4g.

Blind Spot (BSW) and Lane Change (LCW) warnings alert driver of unsafe lane change to reduce side-swipes.

Red Light Violation (RLVW) warns the driver if a vehicle approaching the same intersection will violate their red light.

Speed Compliance (SC) alerts driver of violation.

Oversize vehicle (OVC) alerts driver of unsafe road use (trucks).

The NYC CV pilot program has established extensive performance measures to evaluate the tech during various phases of implementation. Here is a brief excerpt of the V2I Performance Measures:

The CV pilot program, still in initial design and development, has numerous phases with countless obstacles to still overcome… some of which are related to the technical challenges of operating GPS in an urban canyon environment, while others relate to the Privacy and Security issues of the government gathering and storing large (colossal and enormous) amounts of data on it’s citizens and their movements. Without question a major trial for NYC (and all other cities to follow) will be earning the “buy in” and trust of the public before these technologies are implemented. NYC has a sullied history of widely abusing Fourth Amendment protections and the future will be no different unless proper and thorough preparation is made. Where will traffic data be stored? Who can access the data? How will citizens be protected?

Assistive technology and automation have limitless capability to make our world safer by protecting our people, resources and environment. However with the application of these technologies come the obvious challenges of balancing our safety and freedom. After-all a highly restrictive Surveillance State complete with a zero traffic fatality rate, which may unequivocally improve public safety, would be a major social deterioration from our current condition. Nonetheless I am very excited to see our world (and roads) be safer in the near future!



DoT Intelligent Transportation

NYC CV Pilot Program

NYC Connected Vehicle Project

2 thoughts on “Intelligent Transportation

  1. Thanks for sharing this interesting topic that I am not familiar at all! The automation definitely has a big influence on even safety aspect, which is so important and everybody is concerned about. How can we make it perfect? In terms of safety, I like your question regarding the protection of data. How to balance the safety data while ensuring safety of vehicle at the same time? Can we achieve a way to not sacrifice either our privacy or safety?

  2. This pilot program seems really innovative and I’m excited about the prospects of CV technology. However like you mentioned, I do have my concerns about how this technology could be widely implemented and accepted by the public. I think you bring up a great point about balancing safety and freedom. What freedom is sacrificed for safety? And how do we ethically implement automated systems into public spheres? I think as a society we have a lot of work to do in terms of implementing guidelines and regulations into the technology we’re creating.

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