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Research Projects

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Research Projects

Florida State University Enhanced Mobility for Aging Population Using Automated Vehicles

Automated Vehicles are being developed and deployed at a faster rate than existing federal and state policies can adapt. AV technologies could have a significant positive effect on public roadways by reducing traffic accidents and congestion if wide-scale adoption is realized.  The level of adoption is highly dependent upon the regulatory framework surrounding AV technology.  Automated vehicles (AV) promise to offer extraordinary improvements to both the safety and efficiency of our existing roadways and mobility systems.  As this technology evolves, a greater understanding of the mobility needs and other behavioral issues related to the elderly population, and attitudes of this population towards the use of autonomous vehicles and related transportation technologies is needed. The main objective of this research project is to provide the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) with information and guidance on how autonomous and connected vehicle technologies could enhance mobility operations for certain segments of the population, including aging and the transportation disadvantaged.  Para-transit and shuttle services are the most expensive modes of transportation for any public agency to operate.  FDOT has recognized that automated vehicles may potentially reduce costs and expand services to the rapidly growing demographic of aging citizens.  This research may identify a possible pilot project, such as para-transit service, to apply automated vehicle technology and plan for implementation.  This research could be enhanced in the future by actually deploying the technology. FINAL REPORT

University of Florida -Surveying Florida MPO Readiness to Incorporate Innovative Technologies into LRTPs

Connected vehicle technology relies on information gathered by vehicles and the transportation infrastructure about real-time operations of the transportation network. Based on a specific vehicle’s location, information is broadcast to the vehicle so the driver is able to make informed decisions regarding routing and maneuvering.  This technology does not impact safety critical functions of the vehicle, as the driver remains in full control of the vehicle at all times.  For example, using connected vehicle technology, the driver could read (or hear) a message that the red signal ahead will turn green in 4 seconds and if the driver maintains a speed of XX mph, he/she could avoid excessive braking and/or acceleration.  Research is needed to understand the current policy framework that either enables or prohibits the adoption rate of these technologies.  Once current policy is determined, it may be important to draft new policies or alter existing policies in order to guide public and private entities along a path the yields the greatest benefit to the population at large.  Long Range Transportation Plans (LRTPs), engineering standards, and infrastructure investment directives tailored to integrate AV technology onto public roadways will help to serve stakeholders in the implementation process.  This research is designed to provide information and guidance in order to understand what changes may need to be made to existing policy. FINAL REPORT 

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Autonomous Service Vehicle Project

The primary focus of autonomous vehicle studies has been related to the development of technologies and polices for operating vehicles that transport people and commodities on roadways. However, the use of autonomous vehicles for pavement and roadside management services, herein referred to as autonomous service vehicles, has the potential to reduce the state budget, improve the local economy, and improve safety of these operations. Candidate services to be conducted by autonomous service vehicles include inspection of roadways, roadside trimming, and roadside mowing. Another potential application for autonomous systems is for use in closed environments, such as racetracks, for tasks including safety and track drying.   Autonomous service vehicle operations including mowing and track drying have clear economic and safety benefits, but current studies do not address the sensing requirements needed to undertake these tasks. The primary objective of this research project is to develop sensing requirements and communication specifications for autonomous service vehicles. While there are many environments in which these systems could operate, the focus of this study will be on closed environments, such as race tracks and airport grounds, and Florida roadways where there are mechanisms currently in place to enable the use of autonomous ground vehicles. Characterizing these requirements will consist of a series of data collections in environments with operating conditions that range from mild to hostile such as rough weather, intense radiofrequency emissions, and high‐traffic areas. This research will be conducted using a high fidelity sensor suite and spectral analyzing equipment mounted to a manned vehicle surrogate. Collected data will then be analyzed to characterize sensor performance under these conditions for performing a set of high interest service tasks. The service tasks of interest are: track drying, pavement inspection, and mowing at airports. FINAL REPORT

Florida Atlantic University - Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) systems for bridge inspection.

  In the US, nearly 25% of all bridges are considered deficient or obsolete and are in need of replacement. In comparison, the State of Florida is doing much better than the national average and ranks among the lowest nationwide for the percentage of bridges that are considered structurally deficient. However, the task of inspecting and maintaining the state’s extensive network of approximately 11,450 bridges is arduous. The FDOT inspects each bridge at least once every two years, and more often when necessitated by age or structural concern. Thus, technological solutions that can make help make the bridge inspection process less costly, more efficient and safer for personnel are paramount. Florida Atlantic University (FAU) will conduct a background study to: identify which FDOT on-water bridge inspection needs and requirements might be satisfied through use of USV-based systems; assess the current capabilities of USVs to determine how they may be most effectively used for bridge inspection; and provide recommendations to the FDOT Transportation Statistics Office and the FDOT Maintenance Office for how USVs can be best used to conduct, or assist, bridge inspections. FINAL REPORT  

Florida State University - Envisioning Florida’s Future: Transportation and Land Use in an Automated Vehicle World

The main objective of this research project is to provide the Florida Department of Transportation and its partners with information and guidance on what the built environment could look like in 2040 and 2060 based on various levels of market penetration of autonomous and connected vehicles. Land use patterns, site development trends, urban design, and human behavior all have a direct impact on the transportation system. This research will rely on transportation professionals to consider multiple scenarios and create consensus on how to begin to prepare for a future in which AV technology has become widely adopted.   Through an innovative and collaborative process the research team will identify potential impacts that AV technology will have on the transportation system and the built environment, and provide guidance on how to begin to plan and prepare for these impacts. More specifically, the FSU Research Team will identify potential urban design features that could provide a smooth and efficient transition from the current transportation system to one that is saturated with automated vehicles. The project team will develop considerations for updated roadway designs that will need to be modified to accommodate AV technology, based on the potential urban design features of years of 2040 and 2060. Some specific points of interest includes (but is not limited to); how site design can be adapted to accommodate AV technology (e.g. drop-offs instead of parking), how AV technology will impact the design of intersections, how AV technology will affect parking needs and locations, and how AV technology can be integrated into the design of transit stations and TOD. FINAL REPORT 

University of Central Florida - Investigation of Connected Vehicles to Inform Design of Automated Vehicle Systems

Increased vehicle safety is a driving force in the development of Automated Vehicles (AV) and Connected Vehicles (CV) technologies. As U.S Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox stated in a public address at the beginning of 2014, “Vehicle‐to‐vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements, building on the life‐saving achievements we’ve already seen with safety belts and air bags.” Unlike safety belts and air bags that are designed to protect motor vehicle occupants in the event of an accident, CVs will be designed to avoid catastrophes all together by providing warnings about impending danger. While not every possible situation can be avoided or foreseen while commuting in a motor vehicle, CVs have the potential to prevent many of the common accidents that do occur with improved driver situation awareness. Accidents that occur from situations such as vehicle following, lane changing or passing, turning through intersections while crossing oncoming traffic, or running red lights and stops signs will no longer jeopardize the safety of fellow motor vehicles on the road. Moreover, AV technologies are expected to take safety in further than CV systems, with estimated annual savings of $1.3 trillion according to Morgan Stanley reports on the economic benefits of driverless cars. Specifically, it is expected that there will be an estimated saving of $507 billion due to a reduction of accident costs. Connected Vehicles (CVs) facilitate new safety applications such as warnings for wrong way driving and blind spots, however it is still unclear what the best methods are for alerting drivers with this information. Automated vehicles (AVs) will encounter issues similar to CVs in that different information may need to be provided to a passenger so that they are able to maintain situation awareness of the vehicles operation and trust in the underlying technology. The primary objective for this project is to investigate multimodal AV and CV displays for future vehicles to safely and quickly alert drivers of upcoming automation related vehicle warnings. This objective will be accomplished through a multi-phased approach including simulation test bed development followed by data collection with human participants performed throughout the state of Florida and at UCF. Findings from this effort will result in requirements and recommendations for how to implement connected vehicle displays for ease of use and increased safety. FINAL REPORT 

Bishop Consulting/HNTB - Applications of Connected-Automated Vehicles for Movement of Freight

 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), road traffic crashes caused an estimated 1.24 million deaths worldwide in 2010. On U.S. roadways, more than 32,400 people died and 2.4 million were injured in 2011. In Florida alone, over 2,400 people were killed in roadway crashes in 2012.  Over ninety percent of the time, the data points to operator error as the cause. Driving under the influence claims countless lives and distracted driving continues to increase as drivers embrace mobile devices and constant connectivity as an integral part of daily life. In addition, persons with disabilities and the elderly have limited options for mobility. This research would follow a three-phase approach to measure, prioritize and automate portions of the floral delivery supply chain in Miami-Dade County. Approximately 86.3 percent of all fresh flowers entering the U.S. enter through Miami International Airport (MIA). They arrive daily from over 40 countries; the majority of these originate in South America. This is a multi-billion dollar industry for the Miami area. Once the temperature-controlled, fresh flowers arrive in Miami, they undergo inspection, fumigation, sorting and then final shipment to markets throughout the world.  Currently, 35 trucking firms working 365 days a year move this extremely perishable product through the supply chain. Once the cargo arrives in Miami, many jurisdictions are involved: USDA inspectors and fumigation specialists; Department of Homeland Security; Customs and Border Protection; bouquet manufacturers; freight forwarders; consolidators; and distributors.  Efficiency is essential with this type of complex, time-sensitive operation. Bottlenecks and delays can result in rapid deterioration of the product and significant economic loss.

Key Highlights

Florida Legislature

In 2012, Florida was the second state to adopt legislation allowing for automated vehicle testing on public roadways. Read HB 1207

In 2016, Florida legislation updated the existing laws pertaining to autonomous vehicles. See House Bill 7027 for more information. Read HB 7027

Autonomous vehicles; operation. Read F.S. 316.85

Exemption from liability for manufacturer when third party converts vehicle. Read F.S. 316.86

Assistive truck platooning technology pilot project. Read F.S. 316.0896