DOT Shifts Gears to Consider Future Infrastructure Needs of Automated Vehicles

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released a request for information (RFI) on infrastructure and automated driving systems (ADS).  Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao signaled at CES that the agency would release four RFIs focused on accelerating development and consumer adoption of ADS, and this is the first of the series.  Comments are due March 5, 2018. 

The RFI seeks comment on how to improve existing infrastructure for ADS and thereby facilitate deployment of the technology.  For example, FHWA asks whether standardizing elements of lane markings, signage, signals, etc. or improving road conditions would enhance the effectiveness of ADS. 

FHWA also looks beyond road infrastructure and requests feedback on the role of digital infrastructure and data.  Questions include: “What types of data transmission between ADS and roadside infrastructure could enhance safe and efficient ADS operations?”  “How might the interface between ADS and digital infrastructure best be defined to facilitate nationwide interoperability while still maximizing flexibility and cost effectiveness for ADS technology developers and transportation agencies and minimizing threats to cybersecurity or privacy?”

Finally, FHWA asks about potential concerns of State and local governments as they plan and prepare for infrastructure investments; opportunities for further research on infrastructure and ADS interface needs or standards development; and how to prepare infrastructure for a “mixed vehicle fleet” that includes fully-automated, partially-automated, non-automated, and cooperative and unconnected vehicles.   

The document is intended to complement the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s guidance for ADS: Automated Driving Systems 2.0—A vision for Safety.  (More here).  DOT is expected to release Version 3.0 this summer, which will address integration of autonomous technology for motor carriers, trucks, infrastructure, and port operations. 

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