Florida at the Forefront of Automated Vehicle Movement
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is planning for the deployment of autonomous and connected vehicle technologies on public roadways with the establishment of the Florida Automated Vehicles (FAV) initiative. The FAV initiative is helping to create the framework for implementation by engaging stakeholders, developing research and pilot projects, and creating awareness of the technologies and how they support FDOT’s vision statement. These revolutionary technologies will be able to further FDOT’s vision statement; “serving the people of Florida by delivering a transportation system that is fatality and congestion free.” Automated vehicle technologies hold unprecedented opportunities in helping to reduce congestion and improve safety.
Automated vehicle is an umbrella term that includes both autonomous and connected vehicle technologies. An autonomous vehicle (AV) is any vehicle equipped with advanced sensors (radar, LIDAR, cameras, etc.) and computing abilities to perceive its surroundings and activate steering, braking, and acceleration without operator input. Connected vehicles (CV) employ vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication to provide real-time warnings to a human driver to help them avoid crashes. Additional information can include traffic signal status, traffic congestion and construction warnings, as well as impending severe weather events. Both technologies can improve safety and efficiency of our transportation system in Florida since over 90% of traffic crashes are due to human error. CV technologies can also allow back office systems such as the traffic signal control system to react to real-time information from the vehicle.
A very important component of the FAV Initiatives is public outreach and education. The FDOT staff and their consultants have traveled around the state to various planning and engineering conferences and meetings to engage these entities that are involved in providing transportation infrastructure. FDOT understands that these professionals and organizations need to be involved from the very beginning in order to proactively prepare Florida for these emerging technologies. Education and awareness of AV and CV technologies, beginning with the planning and engineering community, is essential in order to begin to address the questions and concerns that the general public will (and should) generate.