The National Academies

NCHRP 20-102(28) [Completed]

Preparing Transportation Agencies for Connected and Automated Vehicles in Work Zones
[ NCHRP 20-102 (Impacts of Connected Vehicles and Automated Vehicles on State and Local Transportation Agencies--Task-Order Support) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Research Agency: Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
Principal Investigator: Luke Neurauter
Effective Date: 10/21/2020
Completion Date: 7/21/2022


Connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies are advancing at a rapid pace. Connected vehicle technologies allow vehicles, the infrastructure, and passenger personal communications devices to communicate with each other safely and seamlessly. The sophistication of the wireless data communications varies from simple free-form alerts, such as smartphone apps that notify of hazards ahead, to detailed standardized message sets between vehicles and with the roadway infrastructure itself. Meanwhile, autonomous vehicles automatically sense their environment and perform some or all driving functions normally performed by the human driver.
The extent to which CAVs will successfully assimilate into the driving environment will depend on how well the technologies are able to establish and maintain accurate and timely situational awareness of the roadway environment as the vehicles move from point to point, including timely awareness of temporary changes to that environment related to the following:
  •  Allowable or required travel path 
  • Traffic control devices (TCDs) and regulations
  • Operating conditions
  • Hazard presence  
  • Degradation and inconsistent placement of TCDs
Studies have confirmed that work zones are one of the more difficult environments for CAVs to navigate. Besides rapidly changing conditions, work zone layouts can vary significantly (e.g., single lane closures, crossovers, flagging operations, and temporary signals). In the context of this research, work zones include short- and long-term construction, static and mobile maintenance, and utility work within rights-of-way. 
Efforts are underway on several fronts to address these and other challenges, with the ultimate goal of developing CAV capabilities for work zones in the future. These efforts include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Testbeds that replicate the CAV-related challenges found in work zones
  • Development and testing of devices and applications that would better connect work zones and CAVs
  • Efforts to establish and furnish digital data about work zones that could be consumed and responded to by CAVs
In light of the various challenges that work zones pose to CAVs, and to support national efforts to promote safety in work zones, further research is needed to help transportation agencies prepare for CAVs in work zones.
To help transportation agencies prepare for connected and automated vehicles in work zones, the objectives of this project were to:
  • Identify technical needs and potential impacts of CAVs in work zones
  • Document deployed and planned practices for CAVs in work zones
  • Evaluate the qualitative and quantitative benefits of these practices, e.g., return on investment and improved safety, mobility,anduser/workerawareness
  • Identify research needed for addressing gaps in implementing various CAV practices
  • Educate stakeholders on research findings through webinars and other materials
STATUS: Research is complete; publication of final deliverables is pending. 

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