The National Academies

Transit IDEA J-04/IDEA 89 [Completed (IDEA)]

Dynamic Vehicle to Infrastructure TCIP Communications Laboratory Proof of Concept
[ TCRP J-04 (Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis--The Transit IDEA Program) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Staff Responsibility: Velvet Fitzpatrick
Research Agency: Ayers Electronic Systems, LLC
Principal Investigator: Marilyn Fortin
Fiscal Year: 2017

Most data communications in the transit industry today are still based on vendor proprietary communications protocols and messaging and carry high recurring operating costs. This limits agency choices when procuring new systems and often leads to agencies experiencing vendor lock-in where an incumbent vendor has significant control over the agency’s ability to procure new systems. 

This project has demonstrated the viability of using Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) to convey standardized Transit Communications Interface Profiles (TCIP) information between control centers and enroute vehicles. aE set up a test environment and tested the system that simulates DSRC not being available along the vehicle’s entire route, cellular communications were used to ‘fill in’ communications when DSRC was not available. This combination of DSRC and cellular media for vehicle to wayside communications, and the need to switch between the two media in real-time based on DSRC availability, inspired the name for this project: Dynamic Vehicle to Infrastructure TCIP Communications (DV2I).  Field testing and optimization of message rates is the next step.  This would be followed by adding the software capability of transmitting any message format type, making the use of DV2I interoperable with existing agency systems.

The successful integration of DSRC, TCIP, and cellular communications in this project opens the door to a number of future benefits to transit agencies in future production projects including: 

  • Availability of enroute high-capacity communications with transit vehicles. This can provide cost-effective means to update schedules, and GIS information to enroute vehicles without incurring the high cost of transferring large data files over cellular
  • Reduction of cellular costs by rerouting cellular traffic over DSRC where it is available.
  • Improvement of tracking and monitoring system performance in agencies with private radio systems by sending large messages over DSRC rather than over private radio systems and by sending additional tracking and monitoring information over DSRC that would be infeasible over the private radio system.
  • Reduction of cellular dependence during major incidents by allowing intermittent communications with enroute vehicles, even if cellular communications are unavailable. Since DSRC operates in a licensed band, its availability is not impaired by heavy cellular loads imposed by the public during incidents.
  • In the future, it is expected that new road vehicles will be delivered with DSRC radio systems as standard equipment to facilitate the operation of such in the V2V and V2I environments. This project demonstrates the feasibility of using these new radio systems to facilitate transit operations.

The final report is available.

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