The National Academies

NCHRP 20-102(28) [Active]

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
Staff Responsibility: David M. Jared
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 are 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
 Accomplishment of the project objectives will require at least the following tasks.
Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers’ current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objectives.
Task 1.Review of literature and development of an engagement plan.
Task 1a. Review of literature and transportation agency organizational structures. Survey pertinent literature, determine the CAV structure of a select cross-section of transportation agencies, and identify appropriate CAV technical contacts therein.
Task 1b. Development of an engagement plan for CAV contacts. Finalize the tentative engagement plan from the project proposal to contact key personnel in transportation agencies and industry, such as traffic control vendors and CAV developers. Identify (1) deployed and planned CAV technologies within work zones and (2) technical needs and potential impacts of CAV technologies. The plan must be presented to NCHRP by video conferencing and approved before Task 2 work begins.
Task 2. Engagement of transportation agencies and industry. Implement plan developed in Task 1b. The product of Task 2 shall be a technical memorandum summarizing the findings of Task 1 and 2.
Task 3. Development of framework for evaluating benefits and challenges of deployed and planned CAV technologies. This framework shall include the criteria for evaluating these benefits and challenges—such as return on investment and improved safety, mobility, and user/worker awareness—qualitatively or quantitatively. The research team shall present the draft plan in person at an interim meeting, and this plan must be approved by NCHRP before Task 4 work begins.
Task 4. Evaluation of benefits/challenges and research topic identification.
Task 4a. Evaluation of benefits and challenges of deployed and planned CAV technologies. Evaluate the benefits and challenges of deployed and planned CAV technologies identified in Task 2.
Task 4b. Identification of research needs. Develop proposed research problem statements for future research to address gaps and challenges in preparing for CAVs in work zones.
The products of Task 4 shall be (1) a technical memorandum summarizing the benefit and challenge evaluations and (2) proposed research problem statements based thereon.
Task 5. Development and implementation of an educational plan for stakeholders. This plan shall be based on the results of Tasks 1 through 4. These materials could include, but should not be limited to, webinars, conference sessions, virtual roundtables, slide presentations, and technical briefs. Present materials and implementation plan to NCHRP by webinar. NCHRP approval of the materials must be obtained before the educational plan is implemented.
Task 6. Submit final report. A final report including the findings and deliverables from Tasks 1 through 5 shall be provided.
STATUS: Research in progress 

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