Autonomous Vehicle Demonstrations Held on Virginia Highway Express Lanes

Autonomous Vehicle Demonstrations Held on Virginia Highway Express Lanes

A controlled autonomous vehicle was put through a series of scenarios meant to challenge it and ensure its performance keeps everyone safe.

Over three days in October, demonstrations were conducted to show how connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs) could operate in express lanes on Route 395 in Northern Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C.

The demonstrations were funded in part by a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation to support CAV research, and were run by Transurban North America, which owns and operates the express lanes, along with partners from the Virginia Dept. of Transportation, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and Crash Avoidance Metrics Partners, LLC.

The coalition partnered with law enforcement and first responders to identify situations in which CAVs need to respond quickly and appropriately, such as the presence of first responders, work zones or traffic incidents on the road. While CAVs are currently able to navigate their immediate area, the demonstrations are meant to show how technology integrated into infrastructure like the smart express lanes can make CAVs safer, more reliable and more efficient as the industry prepares for the next generation of road travel.

The demonstrations put a CAV through its paces in a series of scenarios meant to challenge the vehicle and ensure its performance keeps everyone safe, both inside and outside the vehicle. Scenarios included:

  • A law enforcement officer providing hand signal around a simulated crash scene
  • Detecting upcoming hazards out of the line of sight of the CAV through communication with the roadway technology
  • Navigating safely around first responders and construction workers and work zones
  • Forming a tight vehicle formation based on real-time speed and distance information from infrastructure increasing road density

A second round of demonstrations will be conducted on the 395 express lanes in November.

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